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Galaxy 

3 SCIENCE FICTION 



JANUARY 1953 
354 





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JANUARY, 1953 



galaxy 

SCIENCE FICTION 



All ORIGINAL STORIES • 

CONTENTS 



NO REPRINTS! 



NOVELETS 

THE DEFENDERS 


by Philip K. Dick 


PAGE 

4 


THE INHABITED 


by Richard Wilson 


50 


SHORT STORIES 


TEETHING RING 


by James Causey 


29 


LIFE SENTENCE 


by James McConnell 


37 


PROTT 


by Margaret St. Clair 


81 


BOOK-LENGTH SERIAL-lnstallment 2 

RING AROUND THE SUN 


by Clifford D. Simak 


100 


SCIENCE DEPARTMENT 


FOR YOUR INFORMATION 


by Willy Ley 


71 


FEATURES 


EDITOR'S PAGE 


by H. L. Gold 


3 


GALAXY'S FIVE STAR SHELF 


by Groff Conklin 


96 



Cover by EM5H Illustrating THE DEFENDERS 



ROBERT GUINN, Publisher 

l. GOLD, Editor WIllY LEY, Science Editor EVELYN PAIGE, Assistant Editor 



W. I. VAN DER POEL, Art Director 



JOAN De MARIO, Production Manager 



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Hsrwhcre $4.30. Entered as second-class matter at the Post Office, New York, N. Y. Copyright. 

hv Galaxy Publishing Corporation. Robert (.uinn, president. All riahts. induotng 
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this magazine arc fiction, and any similarity between characters and actual persons is coincidental. 

Printed in the U.S.A. by the Guinn Co.. Inc. U S Pa *- OH> 




COMMON SENSE 



Y OU might say that human- 
ity’s slogan is: “The obvious 
we see eventually; the completely 
apparent takes a little longer.” 
Each of us buys his share of 
plausible irrationality, provided 
it’s repeated often enough to be 
considered axiomatic. 

For centuries, as an example, 
nobody thought of testing Aris- 
totle’s statement that the heavier 
the object, the faster it falls. 
Common sense told them Aris- 
totle was right. But Galileo tried 
it out with vari-sized rocks from 
the top of the Tower of Pisa and 
found that the rate of fall is 
constant, regardless of weight. 
We all know now that a feather 
and a lump of lead exactly match 
speeds in a vacuum, but we know 
it only because one man was ^illy 
enough to disregard logic and try 
it out in practice. 

That sort of stubborn insist- 
ence on challenging the obvious 
is the difference between progress 
and paralysis. Here are some 
items that anyone with any in- 
telligence at all can see are true, 
but I don’t: 

We're faced with inflation. 

A rising cost of living, yes, 
but is it inflation? The word is 
flung around with no attempt to 
define it. Inflation is a sudden 
and disastrous gap between the 
cost of living and income. If in- 



come keeps pace with rising 
prices, the result is a decline in 
the purchasing power of money, 
but it’s not inflation. 

Remember Mark Twain’s A 
Connecticut Yankee in King Ar- 
thur’s Court? The people of that 
time were astonished by the pre- 
diction that wages in the 19th 
Century would be as much as $5 
to $10 a week, which was thou- 
sands of times more than they 
earned. Today’s prices and wages 
would have startled Mark Twain 
as much as he amazed his char- 
acters. Yet he knew the economic 
law behind them — regardless' of 
depressions, the trend of prices 
and wages is a constant incline. 

It doesn’t matter whether steak 
costs 10c or $1000 a pound. If 
wages are $1000 a week, it won’t 
stay at 10c a pound. If they're 
10c an hour, $1000 a pound is 
cataclysmic. But 10c an hour and 
10c a pound and $1000 an hour 
and $1000 a pound are equal. 

So as long as prices and in- 
come remain approximately pro- 
portionate, inflation is no menace. 

Criminals have distinct physi- 
cal characteristics, and a genius 
must be insane. 

Both of these propositions were 
offered by Cesare Lombroso, who 
died in 1909, while his obviously 
demonstrable — and wholly cock- 
( Continued on page 95) 



COMMON SENSE 



3 



V 



T AYLOR sat back in his 
chair reading the morning 
newspaper. The warm kit- 
chen and the smell of coffee 
blended with the comfort of not 
having to go to work. This was 
his Rest Period, the first for a 
long time, and he was glad of 
it. He folded the second section 
back, sighing with contentment. 

“What is it?” Mary said, from 
the stove. 

“They pasted Moscow again 
last night.” Taylor nodded his 
head in approval. “Gave it a 
real pounding. One of those R-H 
bombs. It’s about time.” 

He nodded again, feeling the 
full comfort of the kitchen, the 
presence of his plump, attractive 
wife, the breakfast dishes and cof- 
fee. This was relaxation. And the 
war news was good, good and 
satisfying. He could feel a justi- 
fiable glow at the news, a sense 
of pride and personal accom- 
plishment. After all, he was an 
integral part of the war program, 
* not just another factory worker 
lugging a cart of scrap, but a 
technician, one of those who de- 
signed and planned the nerve- 
trunk of the war. 

“It says they have the new 
subs almost perfected. Wait until 
they get those going.” He smack- 
ed his lips with anticipation. 
"When they start shelling from 
underwater, the Soviets are sure 
going to be surprised.” 



The Defenders 

No weapon 

has ever been frightful enough 
to put a stop to war 
—perhaps because 
we never before had any 
that thought 

for themselves! 





4 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



By PHILIP K. DICK 




THE DEFENDERS 



5 



“They’re doing a wonderful 
job,” Mary agreed vaguely. “Do 
you know what we saw today? 
Our team is getting a leady to 
show to the school children. I 
saw the leady, but only for a 
moment. It’s good for the child- 
ren to see what their contribu- 
tions are going for, don’t you 
think?” 

She looked around at him. 

“A leady,” Taylor murmured. 
He put the newspaper slowly 
down. “Well, make sure it’s de- 
contaminated properly. We don’t 
want to take any chances.” 

“Oh, they always bathe them 
when they’re brought down from 
the surface,” Mary said. “They 
wouldn’t think of letting them 
down without the bath. Would 
they?” She hesitated, thinking 
back. “Don, you know, it makes 
me remember — ” 

He nodded. “I know.” 

H E knew what she was think- 
ing. Once in the very first 
weeks of the war, before every- 
one had been evacuated from the 
surface, they had seen a hospital 
train discharging the wounded, 
people who had been showered 
with sleet, He remembered the 
way they had looked, the ex- 
pression on their faces, or as 
much of their faces as was left. 
It had not been a pleasant sight. 

There had been a lot of that 
at first, in the early days before 



the transfer to undersurface was 
complete. There had been a lot, 
and it hadn’t been very difficult 
to come across it. 

Taylor looked up at his wife. 
She was thinking too much about 
it, the last few months. They all 
were. 

“Forget it,” he said. “It’s all 
in the past. There isn’t anybody 
up there now but the leady s, and 
they don’t mind.” 

“But just the same, I hope 
they’re careful when they let one 
of them down here. If one were 
still hot — ” 

He laughed, pushing himself 
away from the table. “Forget it. 
This is a wonderful moment; I’ll 
be home for the next two shifts. 
Nothing to do but sit around and 
take things easy. Maybe we can 
take in a show. Okay?” 

“A show? Do we have to? I 
don’t like to look at all the de- 
struction, the ruins. Sometimes I 
see some place I remember, like 
San Francisco. They showed a 
shot of San Francisco, the bridge 
broken and fallen in the water, 
and I got upset. I don’t like to 
watch.” 

“But don’t you want to know 
what’s going on? No human be- 
ings are getting hurt, you know.” 

“But it’s so awful!” Her face 
was set and strained. “Please, 
no, Don.” 

Don Taylor picked up his 
newspaper sullenly. “All right, 



6 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



but there isn’t a hell of a lot else 
to do. And don’t forget, their 
cities are getting it even worse.” 

She nodded. Taylor turned the 
rough, thin sheets of newspaper. 
His good mood had soured on 
him. Why did she have to fret 
all the time? They were pretty 
well off, as things went. You 
couldn’t expect to have every- 
thing perfect, living undersurface, 
with an artificial sun and artifi- 
cial food. Naturally it was a 
strain, not seeing the sky or being 
able to go any place or see any- 
thing other than metal walls, 
great roaring factories, the plant- 
yards, barracks. But it was better 
than being on surface. And some 
day it would end and they could 
return. Nobody wanted to live 
this way, but it was necessary. 

He turned the page angrily and 
the poor paper ripped. Damn it, 
the paper was getting worse qual- 
ity all the time, bad print, yel- 
low tint — 

Well, they needed everything 
for the war program. He ought to 
know that. Wasn’t he one of the 
planners? 

He excused himself and went 
into the other room. The bed 
was still unmade. They had bet- 
ter get it in shape before the sev- 
enth hour inspection. There was 
a one unit fine — 

The vidphone rang. He halted. 
Who would it be? He went over 
and clicked it on. 



“Taylor?” the face said, form- 
ing into place. It was an old face, 
gray and grim. “This is Moss. 
I’m sorry to bother you during 
Rest Period, but this thing has 
come up.” He rattled papers. “I 
want you to hurry over here.” 
Taylor stiffened. “What is it? 
There’s no chance it could wait?” 
The calm gray eyes were study- 
ing him, expressionless, unjudg- 
ing. “If you want me to come 
down to the lab,” Taylor grum- 
bled, “I suppose I can. I’ll get my 
uniform — ” 

“No. Come as you are. And not 
to the lab. Meet me at second 
stage as soon as possible. It’ll 
take you about a half hour, using 
the fast car up. I’ll see you there.” 
The picture broke and Moss 
disappeared. 

W HAT was it?” Mary said, 
at the door. 

“Moss. He wants me for some- 
thing.” 

“I knew this would happen.” 
“Well, you didn’t want to, do 
anything, anyhow. What does it 
matter?” His voice was bitter. 
“It’s all the same, every day. 
I’ll bring you back something. 
I’m going up to second stage. 
Maybe I’ll be close enough to the 
surface to—” 

“Don’t! Don’t bring me any- 
thing! Not from the surface!” 
“All right, I won’t. But of all 
the irrational nonsense — ” 



THE DEFENDERS 



7 



She watched him put on his 
boots without answering. 

"jl^OSS nodded and Taylor fell 
in step with him, as the 
older man strode along. A series 
of loads were going up to the 
surface, blind cars clanking like 
ore-trucks up the ramp, disap- 
pearing through the stage trap 
above them. Taylor watched the 
cars, heavy with tubular machin- 
ery of some sort, weapons new 
to him.- Workers were every- 
where, in the dark gray uniforms 
of the labor corps, loading, lift- 
ing, shouting back and forth. The 
stage was deafening with noise. 

“We’ll go up a way,” Moss 
said, “where we can talk. This 
is no place to give you details.” 
They took an escalator up. The 
commercial lift fell behind them, 
and with it most of the crashing 
and booming. Soon they emerged 
on an observation platform, sus- 
pended on the side of the Tube, 
the vast tunnel leading to the 
surface, not more than half a 
mile above them now. 

“My God!” Taylor said, look- 
ing down the Tube involuntarily. 
“It’s a long way down.” 

Moss laughed. “Don’t look.” 
They opened a door and en- 
tered an office. Behind the desk, 
an officer was sitting, an officer 
of Internal Security. He looked 

up. 

“I’ll be right with you, Moss.” 



He gazed at Taylor studying him. 
“You’re a little ahead of time.” 
“This is Commander Franks,” 
Moss said to Taylor. “He was 
the first to make the discovery. 
I was notified last night.” He 
tapped a parcel he carried. “I 
was let in because of this.” 

Franks frowned at him and 
stood up. “We’re going up to 
first stage. We can discuss it 
there.” 

“First stage?” Taylor repeated 
nervously. The three of them 
went down a side passage to a 
small lift. “I’ve never been up 
there. Is it all right? It’s not 
radioactive, is it?” 

“You’re like everyone else,” 
Franks said. “Old women afraid 
of burglars. No radiation leaks 
down to first stage. There’s lead 
and rock, and what comes down 
the Tube is bathed.” 

“What’s the nature of the prob- 
lem?” Taylor asked. “I’d like to 
know something about it.” 

“In a moment.” 

They entered the lift and as- 
cended. When they stepped out, 
they were in a hall of soldiers, 
weapons and uniforms every- 
where. Taylor blinked in sur- 
prise. So this was first stage, the 
closest undersurface level to the 
top! After this stage there was 
only rock, lead and rock, and 
the great tubes leading up like 
the burrows of earthworms. Lead 
and rock, and above that, where 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



the tubes opened, the great ex- 
panse that no living being had 
seen for eight years, the vast, 
endless ruin that had once been 
Man’s home, the place where he 
had lived, eight years ago. 

Now the surface was a lethal 
desert of slag and rolling clouds. 
Endless clouds drifted back and 
forth, blotting out the red Sun. 
Occasionally something metallic 
stirred, moving through the re- 
mains of a city, threading its way 
across the tortured terrain of 
the countryside. A leady, a sur- 
face robot, immune to radiation, 
constructed with feverish haste 
in the last months before the cold 
war became literally hot. 

Leadys, crawling along the 
ground, moving over the oceans 
or through the skies in slender, 
blackened craft, creatures that 
could exist where no life could 
remain, metal and plastic figures 
that waged a war Man had con- 
ceived, but which he could not 
fight himself. Human beings had 
invented war, invented and man- 
ufactured the weapons, even in- 
vented the players, the fighters, 
the actors of the war. But they 
themselves could not venture 
forth, could not wage it them- 
selves. In all the world — in 
Russia, in Europe, America, 
Africa — no living human being 
remained. They were under the 
surface, in the deep shelters that 
had been carefully planned and 



built, even as the first bombs 
began to fall. 

It was a brilliant idea and the 
only idea that could have worked. 
Up above, on the ruined, blasted 
surface of what had once been a 
living planet, the leady crawled 
and scurried, and fought Man’s 
war. And undersurface, in the 
depths of the planet, human 
beings toiled endlessly to produce 
the weapons to continue the 
fight, month by month, year by 
year. 

F IRST stage," Taylor said. A 
strange ache went through 
him. “Almost to the surface.” 
“But not quite,” Moss said. 
Franks led them through the 
soldiers, over to one side, near the 
lip of the Tube. 

“In a few minutes, a lift will 
bring something down to us from 
the surface,” he explained. “You 
see, Taylor, every once in a 
while Security examines and in- 
terrogates a surface leady, one 
that has been above for a time, 
to find out certain things. A vid- 
call is sent up and contact is 
made with a field headquarters. 
We need this direct interview; 
we can’t depend on vidscreen 
contact alone. The leadys are do- 
ing a good job, but we want to 
make certain that everything is 
going the way we want it.” 
Franks faced Taylor and Moss 
and continued: “The lift will 



THE DEFENDERS 



bring down a leady from the 
surface, one of the A-class leadys. 
There’s an examination chamber 
in the next room, with a lead wall 
in the center, so the interviewing 
officers won’t be exposed to radia- 
tion. We find this easier than 
bathing the leady.. It is going 
right back up; it has a job to 
get back to. 

“Two days ago, an A-class 
leady was brought down and in- 
terrogated. I conducted the ses- 
sion hiyself. We were interested 
in a new weapon the • Soviets 
have been using, an automatic 
mine that pursues anything that 
moves. Military had sent instruc- 
tions up that the mine be observ- 
ed and reported in detail. 

“This A-class leady was 
brought down with information. 
We learned a few facts from it, 
obtained the usual roll of film 
and reports, and then sent it back 
up. It was going out of the cham- 
ber, back to the lift, when a cur- 
ious thing happened. At the time, 
I thought — ” 

Franks broke off. A red light 
was flashing. 

“That down lift is coming.” He 
nodded to some soldiers. “Let’s 
enter the chamber. The leady will 
be along in a moment.” 

“An A-class leady,” Taylor 
said. “I’ve seen them on the 
showscreens, making their re- 
ports.” 

“It’s quite an experience,” 



Moss said. “They’re almost hu- 
man.” 

T HEY entered the chamber 
and seated themselves behind 
the lead wall. After a time, a 
signal was flashed, and Franks 
made a motion with his hands. 

The door beyond the wall 
opened. Taylor peered through 
his view slot. He saw something 
advancing slowly, a slender me- 
tallic figure moving on a tread, 
its arm grips at rest by its sides. 
The figure halted and scanned 
the lead wall. It stood, waiting. 

“We are interested in learning 
something,” Franks said. “Before 
I question you, do you have any- 
thing to report on surface condi- 
tions?” 

“No. The war continues.” The 
leady’s voice was automatic and 
toneless. “We are a little short 
of fast pursuit craft, the single- 
seat type. We could use also 
some — ” 

“That has all been noted. What 
I want to ask you is this. Our 
contact with you has been 
through vidscreen only. We must 
rely on indirect evidence, since 
none of us goes above. We can 
only infer what is going on. We 
never see anything ourselves. We 
have to take it all secondhand. 
Some top leaders are beginning to 
think there’s too much room for 
error.” 

“Error?” the leady asked. “In 



10 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



what way? Our reports are 
checked carefully before they’re 
sent down. We niaintain constant 
contact with you; everything of 
value is reported. Any new weap- 
ons which the enemy is seen to 
employ — ” 

“I realize that,” Franks grunt- 
ed behind his peep slot. “But 
perhaps we should see it all for 
ourselves. Is it possible that there 
might be a large enough radia- 
tion-free area for a human party 
to ascend to the surface? If a few 
of us were to come up in lead- 
lined suits, would we be able to 
survive long enough to observe 
conditions and watch things?” 

The machine hesitated before 
answering. “I doubt it. You can 
check air samples, of course, and 
decide for yourselves. But in the 
eight years since you left, things 
have continually worsened. You 
cannot have any real idea of con- 
ditions up there. It has become 
difficult for any moving object 
to survive for long. There are 
many kinds of projectiles sensi- 
tive to movement. The new mine 
not only reacts to motion, but 
continues to pursue the object 
indefinitely, until it finally 
reaches it. And the radiation is 
everywhere.” 

“I see.” Franks turned to Moss, 
his eyes narrowed oddly. “Well, 
that was what I wanted to know. 
You may go.” 

The machine moved back to- 



ward its exit. It paused. “Each 
month the amount of lethal par- 
ticles in the atmosphere increases. 
The tempo of the war is gradu- 
ally — ” 

“I understand.” Franks rose. 
He held out his hand and Moss 
passed him the package. “One 
thing before you leave. I want 
you to examine a new type of 
metal shield material. I’ll ' pass 
you a sample with the tong.” 

Franks put the package in the 
toothed grip and revolved the 
tong so that he held the other 
end. The package swung down to 
the leady, which took it. They 
watched it unwrap the package 
and take the metal plate in its 
hands. The leady turned the 
metal over and over. 

Suddenly it became rigid. 

“All right,” Franks said. 

He put his shoulder against the 
wall and a section slid aside. 
Taylor gasped — Franks and Moss 
were hurrying up to the leady! 

“Good God!” Taylor said. “But 
it’s radioactive!” 

T HE leady stood unmoving, 
still holding the metal. Sol- 
diers appeared in the chamber. 
They surrounded the leady and 
ran a counter across it carefully. 

“Okay, sir,” one of them said 
to Franks. “It’s as cold as a 
long winter evening.” 

“Good. I was sure, but I didn’t 
want to take any chances.” 



THE DEFENDERS 



11 



“You see,” Moss said to Tay- 
lor, “this leady isn’t hot at all. 
Yet it came directly from the 
surface, without even being 
bathed.” 

“But what does it mean?” 
Taylor asked blankly. 

“It may be an accident,” 
Franks said. “There’s always the 
possibility that a given object 
might escape being exposed 
above. But this is the second 
time it’s happened that we know 
of. There may be others.” 

“The second time?” 

“The previous interview was 
when we noticed it. The leady 
was not hot. It was cold, too, 
like this one.” 

Moss took back the metal plate 
from the leady’s hands. He pres- 
sed the surface carefully and re- 
turned it to the stiff, unprotesting 
fingers. 

“We shorted it out with this, 
so we could get close enough for 
a thorough check. It’ll come back 
on in a second now. We had 
better get behind the wall again.” 

They walked back and the lead 
wall swung closed behind them. 
The soldiers left the chamber. 

“Two periods from now,” 
Franks said softly, “an initial in- 
vestigating party will be ready to 
go surface-side. We’re going up 
the Tube in suits, up to the 
top— the first human party to 
leave undersurface in eight 
years.” 



“It may mean nothing,” Moss 
said, “but I doubt it. Something’s 
going on, something strange. The 
leady told us no life could exist 
above without being roasted. The 
story doesn’t fit.” 

Taylor nodded. He stared 
through the peep slot at the im- 
mobile metal figure. Already the 
leady was beginning to stir. It 
was bent in several places, dented 
and twisted, and its finish was 
blackened and charred. It was a 
leady that had been up there a 
long time; it had seen war and 
destruction, ruin so vast that no 
human being could imagine the 
extent. It had crawled and slunk 
in a world of radiation and death, 
a world where no life could exist. 
And Taylor had touched it! 
“You’re going with us,” Franks 
said suddenly. “I want you along. 
I think the three of us will go.” 

M ARY faced him with a sick 
and frightened expression. 
“I know it. You’re going to the 
surface. Aren’t you?” 

She followed him into the kit- 
chen. Taylor sat down, looking 
away from her. 

“It’s a classified project,’ 7 he 
evaded. “I can’t tell you anything 
about it.” 

“You don’t have to tell me. I 
know. I knew it the moment you 
came in. There was something on 
your face, something I haven’t 
seen there for a long, long time. 



12 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



It was an old look.” 

She came toward him. “But 
how can they send you to the 
surface?” She took his face in 
her shaking hands, making him 
look at her. There was a strange 
hunger in her eyes. “Nobody can 
live up there. Look, look at 
this!” 

She grabbed up a newspaper 
and held it in front of him. 

“Look at this photograph. 
America, Europe, Asia, Africa — 
nothing but ruins. We’ve seen it 
every day on the showscreens. 
All destroyed, poisoned. And 
they’re sending you up. Why? 
No living thing can get by up 
there, not even a weed, or grass. 
They’ve wrecked the surface, 
haven’t they? Haven't they?" 

Taylor stood up. “It’s an order. 
I know nothing about it. I was 
told to report to join a scout 
party. That’s all I know.” 

He stood for a long time, star- 
ing ahead. Slowly, he reached for 
the newspaper and held it up to 
the light. 

“It looks real,” he murmured. 
“Ruins, deadness, slag. It’s con- 
vincing. All the reports, photo- 
graphs, films, even air samples. 
Yet we haven’t seen it for our- 
selves, not after the first 
months . . .” 

"What are you talking about?” 

“Nothing.” He put the paper 
down. “I’m leaving early after the 
next Sleep Period. Let’s turn in.” 



Mary turned away, her face 
hard and harsh. “Do what you 
want. We might just as well all 
go up and get killed at once, in- 
stead of dying slowly down here, 
like vermin in the ground.” 

He had not realized how re- 
sentful she was. Were they all 
like that? How about the work- 
ers toiling in the factories, day 
and night, endlessly? The pale, 
stooped men and women, plod- 
ding back and forth to work, 
blinking in the colorless' ,l light, 
eating synthetics — 

“You shouldn’t be so bitter,” 
he said. 

Mary smiled a little. “I’m bit- 
ter because I know you’ll never 
come back.” She turned away. 
“I’ll never see you again, once 
you go up there.” 

He was shocked. “What? How 
can you say a thing like that?” 
She did not answer. 

H E awakened with the public 
newscaster screeching in his 
ears, shouting outside the build- 
ing. 

“Special news bulletin! Surface 
forces report enormous Soviets 
attack with new weapons! Re- 
treat of key groups! All work 
units report to factories at once!” 
Taylor blinked, rubbing his 
eyes. He jumped out of bed and 
hurried to the vidphone. A mo- 
ment later he was put through 
to Moss. 



THE DEFENDERS 



13 



“Listen,” he said. “What about 
this new attack? Is the project 
off?” He could see Moss’s desk, 
covered with reports and papers. 

“No,” Moss said. “We’re going 
right ahead. Get over here at 
once.” 

“But — ” 

“Don’t argue with me.” Moss 
held up a handful of surface 
bulletins, crumpling them sav- 
agely. “This is a fake. Come on!” 
He broke off. 

Taylbf dressed furiously, his 
mind in a daze. 

Half an hour later, he leaped 
from a fast car and hurried up 
the stairs into the Synthetics 
Building. The corridors were full 
of men and women rushing in 
every direction. He entered 
Moss’s office. 

“There you are,” Moss said, 
getting up immediately, “Franks 
is waiting for us at the outgoing 
station.” 

They went in a Security Car, 
the siren screaming. Workers 
scattered out of their way. 

“What about the attack?” Tay- 
lor asked. 

Moss braced his shoulders. 
“We’re certain that we’ve forced 
their hand. We’ve brought the 
issue to a head.” 

They pulled up at the station 
link of the Tube and leaped out. 
A moment later they were mov- 
ing up at high speed toward the 
first stage. 



They emerged into a bewilder- 
ing scene of activity. Soldiers 
were fastening on lead suits, 
talking excitedly to each other, 
shouting back and forth. Guns 
were being given out, instructions 
passed. 

Taylor studied one of the sol- 
diets. He was armed with the 
dreaded Bender pistol, the new 
snub-nosed hand weapon that 
was just beginning to come from 
the assembly line. Some of the 
soldiers looked a little frightened. 

“I hope we’re not making a 
mistake,” Moss said, noticing his 
gaze. 

Franks came toward them. 
“Here’s the program. The three 
of us are going up first, alone. 
The soldiers will follow in fifteen 
minutes.” 

“What are we going to tell the 
leadys?” Taylor worriedly asked. 
“We’ll have to tell them some- 
thing.” 

“We want to observe the new 
Soviet attack.” Franks smiled 
ironically. “Since it seems to be 
so serious, we should be there in 
person to witness it.” 

“And then what?” Taylor said. 

“That’ll be up to them. Let’s 

go” 

TN a small car, they went swift- 
ly up the Tube, carried by 
anti-grav beams from below. 
Taylor glanced down from time 
to time. It was a long way back, 



14 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



and getting longer each moment. 
He sweated nervously inside his 
suit, gripping his Bender pistol 
with inexpert fingers. 

Why had they chosen him? 
Chance, pure chance. Moss had 
asked him to come along as a 
Department member. Then 
Franks had picked him out on 
the spur of the moment. And now 
they were rushing toward the 
surface, faster and faster. 

A deep fear, instilled in him 
for eight years, throbbed in his 
mind. Radiation, certain death, 
a world blasted and lethal — 

Up and up the car went. Tay- 
lor gripped the sides and closed 
his eyes. Each moment they were 
closer, the first living creatures 
to go above the first stage, up 
the Tube past the lead and rock, 
up to the surface. The phobic 
horror shook him in waves. It 
was death; they all knew that. 
Hadn’t they seen it in the films 
a thousand times? The cities, the 
sleet coming down, the rolling 
clouds — 

“It won’t be much longer,” 
Franks said. "We’re almost there. 
The surface tower is not expect- 
ing us. I gave orders that no sig- 
nal was to be sent.” 

The car shot up, rushing furi- 
ously. Taylor’s head spun; he 
hung on, his eyes shut. Up and 
up. . . . 

The car stopped. He opened 
his eyes. 



They were in a vast room, 
fluorescent-lit, a cavern filled with 
equipment and machinery, end- 
less mounds of material piled in 
row after row. Among the stacks, 
leadys were working silently, 
pushing trucks and handcarts. 

“Leadys,” Moss said. His face 
was pale. “Then we’re really on 
the surface.” 

The leadys were going back 
and forth with equipment moving 
the vast stores of guns and spare 
parts, ammunition and supplies 
that had been brought to the 
surface. And this was the re- 
ceiving station for only one Tube; 
there were many others, scattered 
throughout the continent. 

T aylor looked nervously 
around him. They were really 
there, above ground, on the sur- 
face. This was where the, war 
was. 

“Come on,” Franks said. “A 
B-class guard is coming our 
way.” 

TPHEY stepped out of the car. 

A leady was approaching 
them rapidly. It coasted up in 
front of them and stopped scan- 
ning them with its hand-weapon 
raised. 

“This is Security ” Franks said. 
“Have an A-class sent to me at 
once.” 

The leady hesitated. Other B- 
class guards were coming, scoot- 
ing across the floor, alert and 



THE DEFENDERS 



15 



alarmed. Moss peered around. 

“Obey!” Franks said in a loud, 
commanding voice. “You’ve been 
ordered!” 

The leady moved uncertainly 
away from them. At the end of 
the building, a door slid back. 
Two Class- A leadys appeared, 
coming slowly toward them. 
Each had a green stripe across its 
front. 

“From the Surface Council,” 
Franks whispered tensely. “This 
is above ground, all right. Get 
set.” 

The two leadys approached 
warily. Without speaking, they 
stopped close by the men, look- 
ing them up and down. 

“I’m Franks of Security. We 
came from undersurface in order 
to — ” 

“This in incredible,” one leadys 
interrupted him coldly. “You 
know you can’t live up here. The 
whole surface is lethal to you. 
You can’t possibly remain on the 
surface.” 

“These suits will protect us,” 
Franks said. “In any case, it’s 
not your responsibility. What I 
want is an immediate Council 
meeting so I can acquaint myself 
with conditions, with the situa- 
tion here. Can that be arranged?” 

“You human beings can’t sur- 
vive up he're. And the new Soviet 
attack is directed at this area. 
It is in considerable danger.” 

“We know that. Please assem- 



ble the Council.” Franks looked 
around him at the vast room, lit 
by recessed lamps in the ceiling. 
An uncertain quality came into 
his voice. “Is it night or day 
right now?” 

“Night,” one of the A-class 
leadys said, after a pause. “Dawn 
is coming in about two hours.” 

Franks nodded. “We’ll remain 
at least two hours, then. As a 
concession to our sentimentality, 
would you please show us some 
place where we can observe the 
Sun as it comes up? We would 
appreciate it.” 

A stir went through the leadys. 

“It is an unpleasant sight,” one 
of the leadys said. “You’ve seen 
the photographs; you know what 
you’ll witness. Clouds of drifting 
particles blot out the light, slag 
heaps are everywhere, the whole 
land is destroyed. For you it will 
be a staggering sight, much 
worse than pictures and film can 
convey.” 

“However it may be, we’ll stay 
long enough to see it. Will you 
give the order to the Council?” 

C OME this way.” Reluctantly, 
the two leadys coasted to- 
ward the wall of the warehouse. 
The three men trudged after 
them, their heavy shoes ringing 
against the concrete. At the wall, 
the two leadys paused. 

“This is the entrance to the 
Council Chamber. There are 



16 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



windows in the Chamber Room, 
but it is still dark outside, of 
course. You’ll see nothing right 
now, but in two hours — ” 

“Open the door,” Franks said. 

The door slid back. They went 
slowly inside. The room was 
small, a neat room with a round 
table in the center, chairs ringing 
it. The three of them sat down 
silently, and the two leadys fol- 
lowed after them, taking their 
places. 

“The other Council Members 
are on their way. They have al- 
ready been notified and are com- 
ing as quickly as they can. Again 
I urge you to go back down.” 
The leady surveyed the three 
human beings. “There is no way 
you can meet the conditions up 
here. Even we survive with some 
trouble, ourselves. How can you 
expect to do it?” 

The leader approached Frarflcs. 

“This astonishes and perplexes 
us.” it said. “Of course we must 
do what you tell us, but allow 
me to point out that if you re- 
main here — ” 

“We know,” Franks said im- 
patiently. “However, we intend to 
remain, at least until sunrise.” 

“If you insist.” 

There was silence. The leadys 
seemed to be conferring with 
each other, although the three 
men heard no sound. 

“For your own good,” the lead- 
er said at last, “you must go back 



down. We have discussed this, 
and it seems to us that you are 
doing the wrong thing for your 
own good.” 

“We are human beings,” Franks 
said sharply. “Don’t you under- 
stand? We’re men, not machines.” 
“That is precisely why you 
must go back. This room is ra- 
dioactive; all surface areas are. 
We calculate that your suits will 
not protect you for over fifty 
more minutes. Therefore — ” 

The leadys moved abruptly to- 
ward the men, wheeling in a cir- 
cle, forming a solid row. The men 
stood up, Taylor reaching awk- 
wardly for his weapon, his fingers 
numb and stupid. The men stood 
facing the silent metal figures. 

“We must insist,” the leader 
said, its voice without emotion. 
“We must take you back to the 
Tube and send you down on the 
next car. I am sorry, but it is 
necessary.” 

“What’ll we do?” Moss said 
nervously to Franks. He touched 
his gun. “Shall we blast them?” 
Franks shook his head. “All 
right,” he said to the leader. 
“We’ll go back.” 

H E moved toward the door, 
motioning Taylor and Moss 
to follow him. They looked at 
him in surprise, but they came 
with him. The leadys followed 
them out into the great ware- 
house. Slowly they moved toward 



THE DEFENDERS 



17 




the Tube entrance, none of them 
speaking. 

At the lip, Franks turned. “We 
are going back because we have 
no choice. There arc three of us 
and about a dozen of you. How- 
ever, if — ” 

“Here comes the car,” Taylor 
said. 

There was a grating sound 
from the Tube. D-class leadys 
moved toward the edge to receive 
it. 

“I am sorry,” the leader said, 



“but it is for your protection. We 
are watching over'^you, literally. 
You must stay below and let us 
conduct the war. In a sense, it 
has come to be our war. We must 
fight it as we see fit.” 

The car rose to the surface. 
Twelve soldiers, armed with 
Bender pistols, stepped from it 
and surrounded the three men. 

Moss breathed a sigh of relief. 
“Well, this does change things. It 
came off just right.” 

The leader moved back, away 



18 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




from the soldiers. It studied them 
intently, glancing from one to 
the next, apparently trying to 
make up its mind. At last it 
made a sign to the other leadys. 
They coasted aside and a' cor- 
ridor was opened up toward the 
warehouse. ~ 

“Even now,” the leader said, 
“we could send you back by 
force. But it is evident that this 
is not really an observation party 
at all. These soldiers show that 
you have much more in mind; 



this was all carefully prepared.” 

“Very carefully,” Franks said. 
They closed in. 

“How much more, we can only 
guess. I must admit that we were 
taken unprepared. We failed bit- 
terly to meet the situation. Now 
force would be absurd, because 
neither side can afford to injure 
the other; we, because of the re- 
strictions placed on us regarding 
human life, you because the war 
demands — ” 

The soldiers fired, quick and 
in fright. Moss dropped to one 
knee, firing up. The leader dis- 
solved in a clou4 of particles. On 
all sides D- and B-class leadys 
were rushing up, some with weap- 
ons, some with metal slats. The 
room was in confusion. Off in, 
the distance a siren was scream- 
ing. Franks and Taylor were cut 
off from the others, separated 
from the soldiers by a wall of 
metal bodies. 

“They can’t fire back,” Franks 
said calmly. “This is another 
bluff. They’ve tried to bluff us all 
the way-” He fired into the face 
of a leady. The leady dissolved. 
“They can only try to frighten 
us. Remember that.” 

T HEY went on firing and leady 
after leady vanished. The 
room reeked with the smell of 
burning metal, the stink of fused 
plastic and steel. Taylor had been 
knocked down. He was struggling 



THE DEFENDERS 



19 




to find his gun, reaching wildly 
among metal legs, groping fran- 
tically to find it. His fingers 
strained, a handle swam in front 
of him. Suddenly something came 
down on his arm, a metal foot. 
He cried out. 

Then it was over. The leadys 
were moving away, gathering to- 
gether off to one side. Only four 
of the Surface Council remained. 
The others were radioactive par- 
ticles in the air. D-class leadys 
were already restoring order, 
gathering up partly destroyed 
metal figures and bits and remov- 
ing them. 

Franks breathed a shuddering 
sigh. 

“All right,” he said. “You can 
take *us back to the windows. It 
won’t be long now.” 

The leadys separated, and the 
human group, Moss and Franks 
and Taylor and the soldiers, 
walked slowly across the room, 
toward the door. They entered 
the Council Chamber. Already a 
faint touch of gray mitigated the 
blackness of the windows. 

"Take us outside,” Franks said 
impatiently. “We’ll see it directly, 
not in here.” 

A door slid open. A chill blast 
of cold morning air rushed in, 
chilling them even through their 
lead suits. The men glanced at 
each other uneasily. 

“Come on,” Franks said. "Out- 
side.” 



He walked out through the 
door, the others following him. 

They were on a hill, overlook- 
ing the vast bowl of a valley. 
Dimly, against the graying sky, 
the outline of mountains were 
forming, becoming tangible. 

“It’ll be bright enough to see 
in a few minutes,” Moss said. He 
shuddered as a chilling wind 
caught him and moved around 
him. “It’s worth it, really worth 
it, to see this again after eight 
years. Even if it’s the last thing 
we see — ” 

“Watch,” Franks snapped. 

They obeyed, silent and sub- 
dued. The sky was clearing, 
brightening each moment. Some 
place far off, echoing across the 
valley, a rooster crowed. 

“A chicken!” Taylor murmur- 
ed. “Did you hear?” 

Behind them, the leadys had 
come out and were standing si- 
lently, watching, too. The gray 
sky turned to white and the hills 
appeared more clearly. Light 
spread across the valley floor, 
moving toward them. 

“God in heaven!” Franks ex- 
claimed. 

Trees, trees and forests. A val- 
ley of plants and trees, with a 
few roads winding among them. 
Farmhouses. A windmill. A bam, 
far down below them. 

“Look!” Moss whispered. 

Color came into the sky. The 
Sun was approaching. Birds be- 



20 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



gan to sing. Not far from where 
they stood, the leaves of a tree 
danced in the wind. 

Franks turned to the row of 
leadys behind them. 

“Eight years. We were tricked. 
There was no war. As soon as we 
left the surface — ” 

“Yes,” an A-class leady ad- 
mitted. “As soon as you left, the 
war ceased. You’re right, it was 
a hoax. You worked hard under- 
surface, sending up guns and 
weapons, and we destroyed them 
as fast as they came up.” 

“But why?” Taylor asked, 
dazed. He stared down at the 
vast valley below. “Why?” 

“V7"OU created us,” the leady 
said, “to pursue the war for 
you, while you human beings 
went below the ground in order 
to survive. But before we could 
continue the war, it was necessary 
to analyze it to determine what 
its purpose was. We did this, and 
we found that it had no purpose, 
except, perhaps, in terms of hu- 
man needs. Even this was ques- 
tionable. 

“We investigated further. We 
found that human cultures pass 
through phases, each culture in 
its own time. As the culture ages 
and begins to lose its objectives, 
conflict arises within it between 
those who wish to cast it off and 
set up a new culture-pattern, 
and those who wish to retain the 



old with as little change as pos- 
sible.” 

“At this point, a great danger 
appears. The conflict within 
threatens to engulf the society in 
self-war, group against group. 
The vital traditions may be lost 
— not merely altered or reformed, 
but completely destroyed in this 
period of chaos and anarchy. We 
have found many such examples 
in the history of mankind.” 

“It is necessary for this hatred 
within the culture to be directed 
outward, toward an external 
group, so that the culture itself 
may survive its crisis. War is the 
result. War, to a logical mind, is 
absurd. But in terms of human 
needs, it plays a vital role. And 
it will continue to until Man has 
grown up enough so that no 
hatred lies within him.” 

Taylor was listening intently. 
“Do you think this time will 
come?” 

“Of course. It has almost ar- 
rived now. This is the last war. 
Man is almost united into one 
final culture — a world culture. At 
this point he stands continent 
against continent, one half of the 
world against the other half. Only 
a single step remains, the jump to 
a unified culture. Man has climb- 
ed slowly upward, tending always 
toward unification of his culture. 
It will not be long — 

“But it has not come yet, and 
so the war had to go on, to satis- 



THE DEFENDERS 



21 



fy the last violent surge of hatred 
that Man felt. Eight years have 
passed since the war began. In 
these eight years, we have ob- 
served and noted important 
changes going on in the minds 
of men. Fatigue and disinterest, 
we have seen, are gradually tak- 
ing the place of hatred and fear. 
The hatred is being exhausted 
gradually, over a period of time. 
But for the present, the hoax 
must go* on, at least for a while 
longer. You are not ready to 
learn the truth. You would want 
to continue the war.” 

“But how did you manage it?” 
Moss asked. “All the photo- 
graphs, the samples, the damaged 
equipment — ” 

“Come over here.” The leady 
directed them toward a long, low 
building. “Work goes on con- 
stantly, whole staffs laboring to 
maintain a coherent and con- 
vincing picture of a global war.” 

rpHEY entered the building. 

Leadys were working every- 
where, poring over tables and 
desks. 

“Examine this project here,” 
the A-class leady said. Two lea- 
dys were carefully photographing 
something, an elaborate model 
on a table top. “It is a good ex- 
ample.” 

The men grouped around, try- 
ing to see. It was a model of a 
ruined city. 



Taylor studied it in silence for 
a long time. At last he looked up. 

“It’s San Francisco,” he said in 
a low voice. “This is a model of 
San Francisco, destroyed. I saw 
this on the vidscreen, piped down 
to us. The bridges were hit — ” 
“Yes, notice the bridges.” The 
leady traced the ruined span with 
his metal finger, a tiny spider- 
web, almost invisible. “You have 
no doubt seen photographs of 
this many times, and of the other 
tables in this building. 

“San Francisco itself is com- 
pletely intact. We restored it 
soon after you left, rebuilding 1 fit 
parts that had been damaged at 
the start of the war. The work of 
manufacturing news goes , on all 
the time in this particular build- 
ing. We are very careful to see 
that each part fits in with all the 
other parts. Much time and effort 
are devoted to it.” 

Franks touched one of the tiny 
model buildings, lying half in 
ruins. “So this is what you spend 
your time doing — making model 
cities and then blasting them.” 
“No, we do much more. We 
are caretakers, watching over the 
whole world. The owners have 
left for a time, and we must see 
that the cities are kept clean, that 
decay is prevented, that every- 
thing is kept oiled and in running 
condition. The gardens, the 
streets, the water mains, every- 
thing must be maintained as it 



22 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



was eight years ago, so that when 
the owners return, they will not 
be displeased. We want to be 
sure that they will be completely 
satisfied.” 

Franks tapped Moss on the 
arm. 

“Come over here,” he said in a 
low voice. “I want to talk to 
you.” 

He led Moss and Taylor out of 
the building, away from the lea- 
dys, outside on the hillside. The 
soldiers followed them. The Sun 
was up and the sky was turning 
blue. The air smelled sweet and 
good, the smell of growing things. 

Taylor removed his helmet and 
took a deep breath. 

“I haven’t smelled that smell 
for a long time,” he said. 

“Listen, ’’ Franks said, his voice 
low and hard. “We must get back 
down at once. There’s a lot to get 
started on. All this can be turned 
to our advantage.” 

“What do you mean?” Moss 
asked. 

“It’s a certainty that the So- 
viets have been tricked, too, the 
same as us. But we have found 
out. That gives us an edge over 
them.” 

‘T see.” Moss nodded. “We 
know, but they don’t. Their Sur- 
face Council has sold out, the 
same as ours. It works against 
them the same way. But if we 
could — ” 

“With a hundred top-level 



men, we could take over again, 
restore things as they should be! 
It would be easy!” 

M OSS touched him on the arm. 

An A-class leady was com- 
ing from the building toward 
them. 

“We’ve seen enough,” Franks 
said, raising his voice. “All this 
is very serious. It must be report- 
ed below and a study made to de- 
termine our policy.” 

The leady said nothing. 

Franks waved to the soldiers. 
“Let’s go.” He started toward the 
warehouse. 

Most of the soldiers had re- 
moved their helmets. Some of 
them had taken their lead suits 
off, too, and were relaxing com- 
fortably in their cotton » uniforms. 
They stared around them, down 
the hillside at the trees and bush- 
es, the vast expanse of green, the 
mountains and the sky. 

“Look at the Sun,” one of them 
murmured. 

“It sure is bright as hell,” an- 
other said. 

“We’re going back down,” 
Franks said. “Fall in by twos and 
follow us.” 

Reluctantly, the soldiers re- 
grouped. The leadys watched 
without emotion as the men 
marched slowly back toward the 
warehouse. Franks and Moss and 
Taylor led them across the 
ground, glancing alertly at the 



THE DEFENDERS 



23 



leadys as they walked. 

They entered the warehouse. 
D-class leadys were loading ma- 
terial and weapons on surface 
carts. Cranes and derricks were 
working busily everywhere. The 
work was done with efficiency, 
but without hurry or excitement. 

The men stopped, watching. 
Leadys operating the little carts 
moved past them, signaling, si- 
lently to each other. Guns and 
parts were being hoisted by mag- 
netic cranes and lowered gently 
onto waiting carts. 

“Come on,” Franks said. 

He turned toward the lip of the 
Tube. A row of D-class leadys 
was standing in front of it, im- 
mobile and silent. Franks stop- 
ped, moving back. He looked 
around. An A-class leady was 
coming toward him. 

“Tell them to get out of the 
way,” Franks said. He touched 
his gun. “You had better move 
them.” 

Time passed, an endless mo- 
ment, without measure. The men 
stood, nervous and alert, watch- 
ing the row of leadys in front of 
them. 

“As you wish,” the A-class 
leady said. 

It signaled and the D-class 
leadys moved into life. They 
stepped slowly aside. 

Moss breathed a sigh of relief. 

“I’m glad that’s over,” he said 
to Franks. “Look at them all. 



Why don’t they try to stop us? 
They must know what we’re go- 
ing to do.” 

Franks laughed. “Stop us? 
You saw what happened when 
they tried to stop us before. They 
can’t; they’re only machines. We 
built them so they can’t lay hands 
on us, and they know that.” 

His voice trailed off. 

The men stared at the Tube 
entrance. Around them the leadys 
watched, silent and impassive, 
their metal faces expressionless. 

For a long time the men stood 
without moving. At last Taylor 
turned away. 

“Good God,” he said. He was 
numb, without feeling of any 
kind. 

The Tube was gone. It was 
sealed shut, fused over. Only a 
dull surface of cooling metal 
greeted them. 

The Tube had been closed. 

F RANKS turned, his face pale 
and vacant. 

The A-class leady shifted. “As 
you can see, the Tube has been 
shut. We were prepared for this. 
As soon as all of you were on the 
surface, the order was given. If 
you had gone back when we 
asked you, you would now be 
safely down below. We had to 
work quickly because it was such 
an immense operation.” 

“But why?” Moss demanded 
angrily. 



24 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“Because it is unthinkable that 
you should be allowed to resume 
the war. With all the Tubes seal- 
ed, it will be many months before 
forces from below can reach the 
surface, let alone organize a mili- 
tary program. By that time the 
cycle will have entered its last 
stages. You will not be so per- 
turbed to find your world intact. 

“We had hoped that you would 
be -undersurface when the sealing 
occurred. Your presence here is a 
nuisance. When the Soviets broke 
through, we were able to accomp- 
lish their sealing without — ” 

“The Soviets? They broke 
through?” 

“Several months ago, they 
came up unexpectedly to see why 
the war had not been won. We 
were forced to act with speed. At 
this moment they are desperately 
attempting to cut new Tubes to 
the surface, to resume the war. 
We have, however, been able to 
seal each new one as it appears.” 
The leady regarded the three 
men calmly. 

“We’re cut off,” Moss said, 
trembling. “We can’t get back. 
What’ll we do?” 

“How did you manage to seal 
the Tube so quickly?” Franks 
asked the leady. “We’ve been up 
here only two hours.” 

“Bombs are placed just above 
the first stage of each Tube for 
such emergencies. They are heat 
bombs. They fuse lead and rock.” 



Gripping the handle of his gun, 
Franks turned to Moss and Tay- 
lor. 

“What do you say? We can’t 
go back, but we can do a lot of 
damage, the fifteen of us. We 
have Bender guns. How about 
it?” 

He looked around. The soldiers 
had wandered away again, back 
toward the exit of the building. 
They were standing outside, look- 
ing at the valley and the sky. A 
few of them were carefully climb- 
ing down the slope. 

“Would you care to turn over 
your suits and guns?” the A-class 
leady asked politely. “The suits 
are uncomfortable and you’ll 
have no need for weapons. The 
Russians have given up theirs, as 
you can see.” 

Fingers tensed on triggers. 
Four men in Russian uniforms 
were coming toward them from 
an aircraft that they suddenly 
realized had landed silently some 
distance away. 

“Let them have it!” Franks 
shouted. 

“They are unarmed,” said the 
leady. “We brought them here so 
you could begin peace talks.” 

“We have no authority to 
speak for our country,” Moss 
said stiffly. 

“We do not mean diplomatic 
discussions,” the leady explained. 
“There will be no more. The 
working out of daily problems of 



THE DEFENDERS 



25 




existence will teach you how to 
get along in the same world. It 
will not be easy, but it will be 
done.” 

HDHE Russians halted and they 
-*• faced each other with raw 
hostility. 

‘‘I am Colonel Borodoy and I 
regret giving up our guns,” the 
senior Russian said. “You could 
have been the first Americans to 
be killed in almost eight years.” 

“Or the first Americans to kill,” 
Franks corrected. 

“No one would know of it ex- 
cept yourselves,” the leady point- 
ed out. “It would be useless 



heroism. Your real concern 
should be surviving on the sur- 
face. We have no food for you, 
you know.” 

Taylor put his gun in its hol- 
ster. “They’ve done a neat job 
of neutralizing us, damn them. I 
propose we move into a city, 
start raising crops with the help 
of some leadys, and generally 
make ourselves comfortable.” 
Drawing hi? lips tight over his 
teeth, he glared at the A-class 
leady. “Until our families can 
come up from undersurface, it’s 
going to be pretty lonesome, but 
we’ll have to manage.” 

“If I may make a suggestion,” 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



26 




said another Russian uneasily. 
“We tried living in a city. It is 
too empty. It is also too hard to 
maintain for so few people. We 
finally settled in the most modern 
village we could find.” 

“Here in this country,” a third 
Russian blurted. “We have much 
to learn from you.” 

The Americans abruptly found 
themselves laughing. 

“You probably have a thing or 
two to teach us yourselves,” said 
Taylor generously, “though I 
can’t imagine what.” 

The Russian colonel grinned. 
“Would you join us in our vil- 
lage? It would make our work 



THE DEFENDERS 



27 



easier and give us company.” 
“Your village?” snapped 
Franks. "It’s American, isn’t it? 
It’s ours!” 

The leady stepped between 
them. “When our plans are com- 
pleted, the term will be inter- 
changeable. ‘Ours’ will eventually 
mean mankind’s.” It pointed at 
the aircraft, which was warming 
up. “The ship is waiting. Will 
you join each other in making a 
new home?” 

The Russians ‘waited while the 
Americans made up their minds. 

“I see what the leadys mean 
about diplomacy becoming out- 
moded,” Franks said at last. 
“People who work together don’t 
need diplomats. They solve their 
problems on the operational level 
instead of at a conference table.” 
The leady led them toward the 
ship. “It is the goal of history, 
unifying the world. From family 
to tribe to city-state to nation to 
hemisphere, the direction has 
been toward unification. Now the 
hemispheres will be joined and — ” 
Taylor stopped listening and 
glanced back at the location of 
the Tube. Mary was undersur- 
face there. He hated to leave her, 
even though he couldn't see her 
again until the Tube was unseal- 



ed. But then he shrugged and fol- 
lowed the others. 

If this tiny amalgam of former 
enemies was a good example, it 
wouldn’t be too long before he 
and Mary and the rest of human- 
ity would be living on the sur- 
face like rational human beings 
instead of blindly hating moles. 

“It has taken thousands of 
generations to achieve,” the A- 
class leady concluded. “Hundreds 
of centuries of bloodshed and de- 
struction, But each war was a 
step toward uniting mankind. 
And now the end is in sight: a 
world without war. But even 
that is only the beginning of a 
new stage of history.” 

“The conquest of space,” 
breathed Colonel Borodoy. 

“The meaning of life,” Moss 
added. 

“Eliminating hunger and pov- 
erty,” said Taylor. 

The leady opened the door of 
the ship. “All that and more. 
How much more? We cannot 
foresee it any more than the first 
men who formed a tribe could 
foresee this day. But it will be 
unimaginably great.” 

The door closed and the ship 
took off toward their new home. 

—PHILIP K. DICK 



28 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




Teething Ring 



Anyone can make an error, but 



the higher the society . . . the 
more disastrous the mistake! 



Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS 



By JAMES CAUSEY 



H ALF an hour before, while 
she had been engrossed 
in the current soap opera 
and Harry Junior was screaming 



in his crib, Melinda would natur- 
ally have slammed the front door 
in the little man’s face. However, 
when the bell rang, she was 



TEETHING RING 



29 



wearing her new Chinese red 
housecoat, had just lustered her 
nails to a blinding scarlet, and 
Harry Junior was sleeping like an 
angel. 

Yawning, Melinda answered 
the door and the little man said, 
beaming, “Excellent day. I have 
geegaws for information.” 

Melinda did not quite recoil. 
He was perhaps five feet tall, 
with a gleaming hairless scalp 
and a young-old face. He wore 
a plain gray tunic, and a ped- 
dler’s tray hung from his thin 
shoulders. 

“Don’t want any,” Melinda 
stated flatly. 

“Please" He had great, be- 
seeching amber eyes. “They all 
say that. I haven’tjnuch time. I 
must be back at the University 
by noon.” 

“You working your way 
through college?” 

He brightened. “Yes. I sup- 
pose you could call it that. Alien 
anthropology major.” 

Melinda softened. The initia- 
tions those frats pulled nowadays 
— shaving the poor guy’s head, 
eating goldfish — it was criminal. 

“Well?” she asked grudgingly. 
“What’s in the tray?” 

“Flanglers,” said the little man 
eagerly. “Oscillioscopes. Portable 
force-field generators. A neural 
distorter.” Melinda’s face was 
blank. The little man frowned. 
“You use them, of course? This 



is a Class IV culture?*’ Melinda 
essayed a weak shrug and the 
little man sighed with relief. His 
eyes fled past her to the blank 
screen of the TV set. “Ah, a 
monitor.” He smiled. “For a mo- 
ment I was afraid — May I come 
in?” 

11/l'ELINDA shrugged, opened 
the door. This might be in- 
teresting, like a vacuum-clean- 
er salesman who had cleaned her 
drapes last week for free. And 
Kitty Kyle Battles Life wouldn’t 
be on for almost an hour. 

“My name is Porteous,” said 
the little man with an eager smile. 
“I’m doing a thematic on Class 
IV cultures.” He whipped out a 
stylus, began jotting down notes. 
The TV set fascinated him. 

“It’s turned off right now,” 
Melinda said. 

Porteous’s eyes widened impos- 
sibly. “You mean,” he whispered- 
in .horror, “that you’re exercising 
Class V privileges? This is ter- 
ribly confusing. I get doors 
slammed in my face, when Class 
Fours are supposed to have a 
splendid gregarian quotient — you 
do have atomic power, don’t 
you?” 

“Oh, sure,” said Melinda un- 
comfortably. This wasn’t going to 
be much fun. 

“Space travel?” The little face 
was intent, sharp. 

“Well," Melinda yawned, look- 



30 



mg at the blank screen, “they’ve 
got Space Patrol, Space Cadet, 
Tales of Tomorrow ...” 

“Excellent. Rocket ships or 
force-fields?” Melinda blinked. 
"Does your husband own one?" 
Melinda shook her blonde head 
helplessly. “What are your eco- 
nomic circumstances?” 

Melinda took a deep rasping 
breath, said, “Listen, mister, is 
this a demonstration or a quiz 
program?” 

“Oh, my excuse. Demonstra- 
tion, certainly. You will not mind 
the questions?” 

“Questions?” There was an 
ominous glint in Melinda’s blue 
eyes. 

“Your delightful primitive cus- 
toms, art-forms, personal hab- 
its — ” 

“Look,” Melinda said, crim- 
soning. “This is a respectable 
neighborhood, and I’m not an- 
swering any Kinsey report, un- 
derstand?” 

The little man nodded, scrib- 
bling. "Personal habits are tabu? 
I so regret. The demonstration.” 
He waved grandly at the tray. 
“Anti-grav sandals? A portable 
solar converter? Apologizing for 
this miserable selection, but on 
Capella they told me — ” He fol- 
lowed Melinda’s entranced gaze, 
selected a tiny green vial. “This 
is merely a regenerative solution. 
You appear to have no cuts or 
bruises.” 



“Oh,” said Melinda nastily. 
"Cures warts, cancer, grows hair, 
,1 suppose.” 

Porteous brightened. “Of 
course. I see you can scan. Amaz- 
ing.” He scribbled further with 
his stylus, glanced up, blinked 
at the obvious scorn on Me- 
linda’s face. “Here. Try it." 

“You try it.” Now watch him 
squirm! 

Porteous hesitated. “Would 
you like me to grow an extra 
finger, hair — ” 

“Grow some hair." Melinda 
tried not to smile. 

The little man unstopped the 
vial, poured a shimmering green 
drop on his wrist, frowning. 

“Must concentrate.” he said. 
“Thorium base, suspended solu- 
tion. Really jolts the endocrines, 
complete control . . . see?” 

Melinda’s jaw dropped. She 
stared at the tiny tuft of hair 
which had sprouted on that bare 
wrist. She was thinking abruptly, 
unhappily, about that chignon 
she had bought yesterday. They 
had let her buy that for eight 
dollars when with this stuff she 
could have a natural one. 

“How much?” she inquired 
cautiously. 

“A half hour of your time 
only,” said Porteous. 

Melinda grasped the vial firm- 
ly, settled down on the sofa with 
one leg tucked carefully under 
her. 



TEETHING RING 



31 



“Okay, shoot. But nothing per- 
sonal.” 

P ORTEOUS was delighted. He 
asked a multitude of ques- 
tions, most of them pointless, 
some naive, and Melinda dug 
into her infinitesimal fund of 
knowledge and gave. The little 
man scribbled furiously, cluck- 
ing like a gravid hen. 

“You mean,” he asked in 
amazement, “that you live in 
these primitive huts of your own 
volition?” 

“It’s a G.I. housing project,” 
Melinda said, ashamed. 

“Astonishing.” He wrote: Feu- 
dal anachronisms and atomic 
power, side by side. Class Fours 
periodically "rough it" in back- 
to-nature-movements. 

Harry Junior chose that mo- 
ment to begin screaming for his 
lunch. Porteous sat, trembling. 
“Is that a Security Alarm?” 

“My son,” said Melinda de- 
spondently, and went into the 
nursery. 

Porteous followed, and watched 
the ululating child with some 
trepidation. “Newborn?” 

“Eighteen months,” said Me- 
linda stiffly, changing diapers. 
“He’s cutting teeth.” 

Porteous shuddered. “What a 
pity. Obviously atavistic. 
Wouldn’t the creche accept him? 
You shouldn’t have to keep him 
here.” 



“I keep after Harry to get a 
maid, but he says we can’t afford 
one.” 

“Manifestly insecure,” mutter- 
ed the little man, studying Harry 
Junior. “Definite paranoid ten- 
dencies.” 

“He was two weeks prema- 
ture,” volunteered Melinda. “He’s 
real sensitive.” 

“I know just the thing,” Por- 
teous said happily. “Here.” He 
dipped into the glittering litter 
on the tray and handed Harry 
Junior a translucent prism. “A 
neural distorter. We use it to 
train regressives on Rigel Two. 
It might be of assistance.” 

Melinda eyed the thing doubt- 
fully. Harry Junior was peering 
into the shifting crystal depths 
with a somewhat strained expres- 
sion. 

“Speeds up the neural flow,” 
explained the little man proudly. 
“Helps tap the unused eighty 
per cent. The pre-symptomatic 
memory is unaffected, due to au- 
tomatic cerebral lapse in case of 
overload. I’m afraid it won’t do 
much more than cube his present 
IQ, and an intelligent idiot is 
still an idiot, but — ” 

“How dare you?” Melinda’s 
eyes flashed. “My son is not an 
idiot! You get out of here this 
minute and take your — things 
with you.” As she reached for 
the prism, Harry Junior squalled. 
Melinda relented. “Here,” she 



32 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



said angrily, fumbling with her 
purse. “How much are they?” 

“Medium of exchange?” Por- 
teous rubbed his bald skull. “Oh, 
I really shouldn’t — but it’ll make 
such a wonderful addendum to 
the chapter on malignant primi- 
tives. What is your smallest de- 
nomination?” 

“Is a dollar okay?” Melinda 
was hopeful. 

Porteous was pleased with the 
picture of George Washington. 
He turned the bill over and over 
in his fingers, at last bowed low 
and formally, apologized for any 
tabu violations, and left via the 
front door. 

“Crazy fraternities,” muttered 
Melinda, turning on the TV set. 

lZ'ITTY KYLE was dull that 
morning. At length Melinda 
used some of the liquid in the 
greeh vial on her eyelashes, was 
quite pleased at the results, and 
hid the rest in the medicine 
cabinet. 

Harry Junior was a model of 
docility the rest of that day. 
While Melinda watched TV and 
munched chocolates, did and re- 
did her hair, Harry Junior play- 
ed quietly with the crystal prism. 

Toward late afternoon, he 
crawled over to the bookcase, 
wrestled down the encyclopedia 
and pawed through it, gurgling 
with delight. He definitely, Me- 
linda decided, would make a fine 



lawyer someday, not a useless 
putterer like Big Harry, who 
worked all hours overtime in that 
damned lab. She scowled as 
Harry Junior, bored with the en- 
cyclopedia, began reaching for 
one of Big Harry’s tomes on 
nuclear physics. One putterer in 
the family was enough! But when 
she tried to take the book away 
from him, Harry Junior howled 
so violently that she let well 
enough alone. 

At six-thirty, Big Harry called 
from the lab, with the usual 
despondent message that he 
would not be home for supper. 
Melinda said a few resigned 
things about cheerless dinners 
eaten alone, hinted darkly what 
lonesome wives sometimes did 
for company, and Harry said he 
was very sorry, but this might 
be it, and Melinda hung up on 
him in a temper. 

Precisely fifteen minutes later, 
the doorbell rang. Melinda open- 
ed the front door and. gaped. 
This little man could have been 
Porteous’s double, except for the 
black metallic tunic, the glacial 
gray eyes. 

“Mrs. Melinda Adams?” Even 
the voice was frigid. 

“Y-Yes. Why—” 

“Major Nord, Galactic Secur- 
ity." The little man bowed. “You 
were visited early this morning 
by one Porteous.” He spoke the 
name with a certain disgust. “He 



TEETHING RING 



33 



left a neural distorter here. Cor- 
rect?” 

Melinda’s nod was tremulous. 
Major Nord came quietly into 
the living room, shut the door 
behind him. ‘‘My apologies, 
madam, for the intrusion. Por- 
teous mistook your world for a 
Class IV culture, instead of a 
Class VII. Here — ” He handed 
her the crumpled dollar bill. 
“You may check the serial num- 
ber. The distorter, please.” 

M ELINDA shrunk limply on- 
to the sofa. “I don’t under- 
stand,” she said painfully. “Was 
he a thief?” 

“He was — careless about his 
spatial coordinates.” Major 
Nord’s teeth showed in the faint- 
est of smiles. “He has been 
corrected. Where is it?” 

“Now look,” said Melinda with 
some asperity. “That thing’s kept 
Harry Junior quiet all day. I 
bought it in good faith, and it’s 
not my. fault — say, have you got 
a warrant?” 

“Madam,” said the Major with 
dignity, “I dislike violating local 
tabus, but must I explain the im- 
pact of a neural distorter on a 
backwater culture? What if your 
Neanderthal had been given 
atomic blasters? Where would 
you have been today? Swinging 
through trees, no doubt. What if 
your Hitler had force-fields?” He 
exhaled. “Where is your son?” 



In the nursery. Harry Junior 
was contentedly playing with his 
blocks. The prism lay glinting in 
the corner. 

Major Nord picked it up care- 
fully, scrutinized Harry Junior. 
His voice was very soft. 

“You said he was — playing 
with it?” 

Some vestigial maternal in- 
stinct prompted Melinda to 
shake her head vigorously. The 
little man stared hard at Harry 
Junior, who began whimpering. 
Trembling, Melinda scooped up 
Harry Junior. 

“Is that all you have to do — 
run around frightening women 
and children? Take your old dis- 
torter and get out. Leave decent 
people alone!” 

Major Nord frowned. If only he 
could be sure. He peered stonily 
at Harry Junior, murmured, 
“Definite egomania. It doesn’t 
seem to have affected him. 
Strange.” 

“Do you want me to scream?” 
Melinda demanded. 

Major Nord sighed. He bowed 
to Melinda, went out, closed the 
door, touched a tiny stud on his 
tunic, and vanished. 

“The manners of some people,” 
Melinda said to Harry Junior. 
She was relieved that the Major 
had not asked for the green vial. 

Harry Junior also looked re- 
lieved, although for quite a differ- 
ent reason. 



34 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



T>IG HARRY arrived home a 
little after eleven. There were 
small worry creases about his 
mouth and forehead, and the 
leaden cast of defeat in his eyes. 
He went into the bedroom and 
Melinda sleepily told him about 
the little man working his way 
through college by peddling silly 
goods, and about that rude cop 
named Nord, and Harry said that 
was simply astonishing and Me- 
linda said, “Harry, you had a 
drink!” 

“I had two drinks,” Harry told 
her owlishly. “You married a 
failure, dear. Part of the experi- 
mental model vaporized, wooosh, 
just like that. On paper it looked 
so good — ” 

Melinda had heard it all be- 
fore. She asked him to see if 
Harry Junior was covered, and 
Big Harry went unsteadily into 
the nursery, sat down by his son’s 
crib. 

“Poor little guy,” he mused. 
“Your old man’s a bum, a use- 
less tinker. He thought he could 
send Man to the stars on a 
string of helium nucleii. Oh, he 
was smart. Thought of every- 
thing. Auxiliary jets to kick off 
the negative charge, bigger merc- 
ury vapor banks — a fine straight 
thrust of positive Alpha par- 
ticles.” He hiccuped, put his face 
in his hands. 

“Didn’t you ever stop to think 
that a few air molecules could 




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TEETHING RING 



35 



defocus the stream? Try a vac- 
uum, stupid.” 

Big Harry stood up. 

“Did you say something son?” 
“Gurfle,” said Harry Junior. 
Big Harry reeled into the liv- 
ing room like a somnambulist. 

He got pencil and paper, began 
jotting frantic formulae. Present- 
ly he called a cab and raced 
back to the laboratory. 

M ELINDA was dreaming 

about little bald men with 
diamond-studded trays. They 
were chasing her, they kept pelt- 
ing her with rubies and emeralds, 
all they wanted was to ask ques- 
tions, but she kept running, Harry 
Junior clasped tightly in her 
arms. Now they were ringing 
alarm bells. The bells kept ring- 
ing and she groaned, sat up in 
bed, and seized the telephone. 

“Darling.” Big Harry’s voice 
shook. “I’ve got it! More auxili- 
ary shielding plus a vacuum. 
We’ll be rich!” 

“That’s just fine.” said Me- 
linda crossly. “You woke the 
baby.” 

Harry Junior was sobbing bit- 
terly into his pillow. He was sick 
with disappointment. Even the 
most favorable extrapolation 
showed it would take him nine- 
teen years to become master of 
the world. 

An eternity. Nineteen years! 

—JAMES CAUSEY 



STATEMENT OF THE OWNERSHIP. MAN 
AGEMENT, AND CIRCULATION REQUIRED 
BY THE ACT OF CONGRESS OF AUGUST 
24, 1912. AS AMENDED BY THE ACTS OF 
MARCH 3. 1933. AND JULY 2. 1946 (Title 
39. United States Code. Section 233) of Galaxy 
Science Fiction, published monthly at New 
York. N. Y. for October 1. 1952. 



1. The names and addresses of the publisher, 
editor, managing editor, and business managers 
are: Publisher, Galaxy Publishing Corp., 421 
Hudson Street. New York 14. N. Y.; Editor. 
Horace Gold, 505 East 14th Street, New York 
City; Managing editor, Business manager, none. 

2. The owner is; (If owned by a corpora- 
tion, its name and address must be stated and 
also immediately thereunder the names and 
addresses of stockholders owning or holding I 
percent or more of total amount of stock. It 
not owned by a corporation, the names and 
addresses of individual owners must be given. 
If owned by a partnership or other unincorporated 
firm, its name and address, as well as that of each 
individual member, must be given.) Galaxy Pub- 
lishing Corp., 421 Hudson Street, New York 14, 
N. Y. ; (stockholder) Robert M. Guinn, 290 No. 
Fulton Ave., Mt. Vernon, N. Y. 

3. The known bondholders, mortgagees, and 
other security holders owning or holding 1 per- 
cent or more of total amount of bonds, mort- 
gages, or other securities arc: (If there are none, 
so state.) None. 

4. Paragraphs 2 and 3 include, in cases where 
the stockholder or security holder appears upon 
the books of the company as trustee or in any 
other fiduciary relation, the name of the person 
or corporation for whom such trustee is acting; 
also the statements in the two paragraphs show 
the affiant's full knowledge anti belief as to the 
circumstances and conditions under which stock- 
holders and security holders who do not appear 
upon the books of the company as trustees, hold 
stock and securities in a capacity other than 
that of a bona fide owner, 

5. The average number of copies of each issue 
of this publication sold or distributed, through 
the mails or otherwise, to paid subscribers dur- 
ing the 12 months preceding the date shown 
above was: (This information is required from 
daily, weekly, semiwcekly, and triweekly news- 
papers only.) 



GALAXY PUBLISHING CORP. 
Robert M. Guinn. President 



Sworn to and subscribed before me this 15th 
day of October 1952. Fay D. Einsohn, Commis- 
sioner of Deeds. Queens. New York. Kings 
Bronx County Clks. No. 41-109170. Commission 
expires March 30, 1953. 



36 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



" Happy New Year!" she cried. 
But how often should one hear 
it said in a single lifetime? 



Life 

Sentence 



By JAMES McCONNELL 




Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS 



O UTSIDE, bells were ring- 
ing. “Happy New Year!” 
The mad sound of peo- 
ple crazed for the moment, shout- 
ing, echoed the bells. 

“Happy New Year!” 

A sound of music, waxing, 
waning, now joined in wild sym- 
phony by the voices, now left 
alone to counterpoint the noise 
of human celebration. . . . 

For a while, Oliver Symmes 
the raucous music of the 



LIFE SENTENCE 



37 



crowd. It became a part of him, 
seemed to come from somewhere 
inside him, gave him life. And 
then, as always, it passed on, 
leaving him empty. 

Shadows. . . . 

The door to his room opened 
and a young-looking woman, 
dressed in a pleasant green uni- 
form, came in and turned up the 
light. On her sleeve she wore the 
badge of geriatrician, with the 
motto, “To Care for the Aged.” 

“Happy New Year, Mr. Sym- 
mes,” she said, and went over to 
stand by the window. In the mild 
light, the sheen of her hair at- 
tracted attention away from the 
slight imperfections of her face. 

She watched the crowd out- 
side, wishing she could be a part 
of it. There seemed so little life 
inside the prison where the only 
function of living was the await- 
ing of death. “To Care for the 
Aged.” That meant to like and 
love them as well as to take 
physical care of them. Only, 
somehow, it seemed so hard to 
really love them. 

She sighed and turned away 
from the window to look at one 
of the reasons she could not be 
be with the rest of the world 
that night. 

TTE sat bunched up in his chair 
like a vegetable. She could 
have closed one of her hands 
around both his arms together. 



Or his legs. Bones and skin and 
a few little muscles left, and that 
was all. Skin tight, drumlike, 
against the skull. Cheeks shrunk, 
lips slightly parted by the con- 
traction of the skin. Even the 
wrinkles he should have had 
were erased by the shrinkage of 
the epidermis. Even in a strong 
light, the faint wrinkle lines were 
barely visible. 

After a moment of looking at 
him, she put a smile back on her 
face and repeated her greeting. 

“I said, ‘Happy New Year,’ 
Mr. Symmes.” 

He raised his eyes to her for 
a moment, then slowly lowered 
them, uncomprehendingly. 

“He looks just a little bit like 
a caricature,” she said to herself, 
feeling a little more tenderness 
towards him. “A cute little stick 
man made of leaves and twigs 
and old bark and. . .” 

O HADOWS . For so long there 
^ had been shadows. And for a 
time the fleeting passage of 
dreams and past memories had 
been a solace. But now the shad- 
ows were withered and old, de- 
bilitated and desiccated. They 
had been sucked dry of interest 
long ago. 

But still they flitted through 
his mind on crippled wings, 
flapping about briefly in the now- 
narrowed shell of his conscious- 
ness, then fading back among the 



38 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



cobwebs. Every once in a while, 
one of them would return to ex- 
ercise its wings. 

“Did she say, ‘Happy New 
Year?’ ” he wondered. “New 
Year’s?” 

And, at the thought of it, there 
came shadows out of the past. . . 

V7 - O U N G Oliver Symmes 
-*• laughed. The girl laughed, 
too. She was good to hold in 
one’s arms, soft like a furry ani- 
mal, yielding and plush of 
mouth. 

“I love you, Ollie,” she said, 
the warmness of her body close 
against his. 

He laughed again and wrapped 
her in his arms. He owned her 
now, owned her smile, her love 
for him, her mind and her won- 
derful body. She belonged to him, 
and the thrill of ownership was 
strong and exciting. 

“I’ll always love you, Ollie. 
I'll love only you.” She ran her 
fingers in and out of his hair, 
caressing each strand as it went 
through her fingers. “I love the 
strength of your arms, the firm- 
ness of your body.” 

Again he laughed, surrendering 
all his consciousness to the warm 
magic of her spell. 

“I love the shading of your 
hair and eyes, the smooth angu- 
larity of your tallness, the red 
ecstasy of your mind.” Her fin- 
gers slipped down the back of 



his neck, playing little games 
with his flesh and hair. “I’ll al- 
ways love you, Ollie.” 

He kissed her savagely. 

During the daytime, there was 
his work at the anthropological 
laboratories, the joy of poking 
among the cultures of the past. 
And at night there was the joy 
of living with her, of sharing the 
tantalizing stimulations of the 
culture of the present, the infinite 
varieties of love mingling with 
passions. 

For months there was this hap- 
piness of the closeness of her. 
And then she was gone from him, 
for the moment. He still owned 
her, but they were physically 
apart and there was the hunger 
of loneliness in him. The months 
his work kept them apart seemed 
like centuries, until, finally, he 
could return. 

TTE was walking through a 
happy, shouting crowd, 
walking back to her. It was the 
eve of the new year, a time for 
beginnings, a time for looking 
from the pleasures of the past to 
those waiting in the future. There 
was a happy outcry inside him 
that matched the mood of the 
crowd. 

“Happy New Year!” 

Women stopped him on the 
street, asking for his affection. 
But he passed them by, for she 
was waiting for him and he was 



LIFE SENTENCE 



39 



hungry for the possessive love of 
his slave. 

He went eagerly into the build- 
ing where they lived. 

rpHE crowd was gone. A door 
was opening. The voice of his 
love, sudden, full of naked 
surprise, bleated at him. And an- 
other voice, that of a man stand- 
ing behind her, croaked with 
hasty excuses and fear. 

A change of hungers — it 
seemed no more complex than 
that. 

. He put his hand to his side and 
took out a piece of shaped metal, 
pointing it at the man. A blast of 
light and the man was dead. He 
put the weapon aside. 

Young Oliver Symmes walked 
toward the girl. She backed away 
from him, pleading with words, 
eyes, body. He noticed for the 
first time the many small imper- 
fections of her face and figure. * 
Cornered, she raised her arms 
to embrace him. He raised his 
arms to answer the embrace, but 
his hands stopped and felt their 
way around the whiteness of her 
neck. He pressed his hands to- 
gether, thumbs tight against each 
other. 

Minutes later, he dropped her 
to the floor and stood looking at 
her. He had owned her and then 
destroyed her when his owner- 
ship was in dispute. 

He bent to kiss the lax lips. 



S HADOWS. As a man grows 
older, the weight and size of 
his brain decrease, leaving cavi- 
ties in his mind. The years that 
pass are a digger, a giant exca- 
vator, scooping the mass of past 
experience up in the maw of dis- 
sipation. The slow, sure evacua- 
tion of the passing decades leaves 
wing-room in a man’s head for 
stirring memories. 

The withered man looked up 
again. The woman ih the green 
uniform was smiling at him 
through parted, almost twisted 
lips. 

“I suppose that this time of 
year is the worst for you, isn’t 
it?” she asked sympathetically. 
The first requirement of a good 
geriatrician was sympathy and 
understanding. She determined 
to try harder to understand. 

The old man made no answer, 
only staring at her face. But his 
eyes were blank — seeing, yet 
blind to all around him. She 
frowned for a moment as she 
looked at him. The unnatural 
hairlessness of his body puzzled 
her, making it difficult for her 
to understand him while the 
thought was in her mind — that 
and the trouble she had getting 
through to him. 

She stared at him as if to 
pierce the blankness of his gaze. 
Behind his eyes lay the emptiness 
of age, the open wound of stifled 
years. 



40 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“I’ll move you over to the win- 
dow, Mr. Symmes,” she told him 
io soothing tones, her smile re- 
appearing. “Then you can look 
out and see all the people. Won’t 
that be fun?” 

Picking up a box from the 
table, she adjusted a dial. The 
chair in which he was sitting rose 
slightly from the floor and posi- 
tioned itself in front of the win- 
dow. The woman walked to the 
wall beside him and corrected the 
visual index of the glass to match 
the weakness of the old man’s 
eyes. 

“See, down there? Just look at 
them pushing about.” 

A rabble of faces swam on the 
glass in front of him, faces of 
unfamiliar people, all of them un- 
known and unknowable to him. 

Inside him the whisper of the 
wings mounted in pitch with a 
whining, leathery sound. The im- 
ages of dead faces came flying up, 
careening across his mind, min- 
gling and merging with the faces 
of the living. The glass became 
an anomalous torrent of faces. 

Dead faces . . . 

F OUR walls around him, bare 
to the point of boredom. 
Through the barred window, the 
throbbing throat of the crowd 
talked to him. His young body 
took it in, his young mind ac- 
cepted it, catalogued it and 
pushed it out of consciousness. 



And for each individual voice 
there was an individual face, 
staring up at his cell from the 
comparative safety of outside. 
Young Oliver Symmes could not 
see the faces from where he sat, 
waiting, but he could sense them. 

There came a feel of hands on 
his shoulder; his reverie was in- 
terrupted. Arms under his raised 
him to his feet. A face smiled, 
almost kindly, in understanding. 

“They’re waiting for you, Mr. 
Symmes. It’s time to go.” 

More words. Walking from 
this place to that, mostly with a 
crowd of people at his shoulders, 
pressing him in. Then a door 
ahead of him, ornate in carving, 
a replica of the doors to the Ro- 
man Palace of Justice many cen- 
turies before. Again his mind 
catalogued the impressions. 

Then, like the faces of the 
people outside his cell, the pic- 
tures of the bas-relief faded 
away, melted and merged into a 
pelagic blackness. 

The doors opened and, with 
part of the crowd still at his side, 
he went through. The people in- 
side were standing; stick men, it 
seemed to him, with painted bah- 
loons for faces. The sound of the 
rapping of a gavel caught his 
ear. The people sat, and the trial 
began. 

“This court will admit to evi- 
dence only those events and arti- 
facts which are proved true and 



LIFE SENTENCE 



41 



relevant to the alleged crime.” 
An obsequious clearing of 
throats. A coughing now and 
then. 

“. . . And did you see the de- 
fendant, Oliver Symmes, enter 
the apartment of the deceased on 
the night of the Thirty-first of 
December, two thousand and . . 

“I did. He was wearing a sort 
of orange tunic . . .” 

Someone whispered in his ear. 
Oliver Symmes heard and shook 
his head. 

. . You are personally ac- 
quainted with the defendant?” 
“I am. We worked for United 
Anthropological Laboratories be- 
fore he . . .” 

“Objection.” 

“Sustained.” 

The blackness of the judge’s 
robe puzzled him. A vestige, an 
anachronism, handed down from 
centuries before. White was the 
color of truth, not black. 

“You swear that you found the 
defendant standing over the body 
of the deceased woman on the 
night of . . .” 

“Not standing, sir. He was 
bending over, kissing . . 

“Your witness.” 

TpAYS of it, back and forth, 
testimony and more testi- 
mony. Evidence and more evi- 
dence and the lack of it. Smiling 
lawyers, grimacing lawyers, 
soothing lawyers and cackling 



lawyers. And witnesses. 

“You will please take the 
stand, Mr. Symmes.” 

He walked to the chair and 
sat down. The courtroom leaned 
forward, the stick men bowed 
toward him slightly, as in eager 
applause of the coming most 
dramatic moment of a spectacle. 

“You will please tell the court 
in your own words . . .” 

He mouthed the words. The 
whole story, the New Year’s 
crowd, his hunger for her, his 
arrival, the other man and his 
babbling, the woman and how 
she looked, his feelings, his trans- 
figured passions, and the deaths. 
He told the story again and 
again until they seemed satisfied. 

“You understand, Mr. Sym- 
mes, that you have committed a 
most heinous crime. You have 
killed two ''people in a passion 
that, while it used to be forgiven 
by the circumstances, is no long- 
er tolerated by this government. 
You have killed, Mr. Symmes!” 
The face before him was in- 
tense. He looked at it, not under- 
standing the reason for the 
frozen look of malice and hatred. 

“She was mine. When she be- 
trayed me, I killed her. Is that 
wrong?” 

The stick men snorted and 
poked each other in the ribs with 
derisive elbows. 

There were more words and 
more questions. He looked at the 



42 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



face of the judge and wondered, 
for a moment, if perhaps the col- 
or of the robe was to match the 
apparent disposition of the man. 

And then came the silence, a 
time of sitting and waiting. He 
sensed the wondering stares of 
the stick men, wide-eyed in ap- 
prehension, suspended from the 
drabness of their own lives for 
the moment by the stark visita- 
tion of tragedy in his. They 
gabbled among themselves and 
wagered on the verdict. 

The man next to him leaned 
over and tapped him on the arm. 
Everyone stood up and then, 
curiously, sat down again almost 
at once. He felt the tension preir 
ent in the courtroom, but was 
strangely relaxed himself. It was 
peculiar that they were all so 
excited. 

“Your Honor, having duly 
considered the seriousness of the 
crime and the evidence pre- 
sented . . .” 

The balloon faces on the stick 
men stretched in anticipation. 

. . taking full cognizance of 
the admitted passion on the part 
of the defendant and the cir- 
cumstances . . .” 

The balloons were strained, 
contorted out of all proportion in 
their eagerness. 

“. . . we find the defendant 
guilty of murder, making no 
recommendation for considera- 
tion by the Court.” 



The balloons exploded! 

D EAFENING and more than 
deafening, the uproar of the 
voices was beyond belief. He 
threw his hands up over his ears 
to shut out the noise. 

The gavel crashed again and 
again, striking the polished oak 
in deadly cadence, stifling the 
voices. Over the stillness, one 
man spoke. He recognized the 
black voice of the judge and took 
his hands from his ears and put 
them in his lap. He was told to 
stand and he obeyed. 

“Oliver Symmes, there has 
been no taking of human lives in 
this nation for many years, until 
your shockingly primitive crime. 
We had taken pride in this rec- 
ord. Now you have broken it. 
We must not only punish you 
adequately and appropriately, 
but we must also make of your 
punishment a warning to anyone 
who would follow your irrational 
example. 

“Naturally, we no longer have 
either the apparatus to execute 
anyone or an executioner. We do 
not believe that a stupidly un- 
reasoning act should incite us to 
equally unreasoning reprisal, for 
we would then be as guilty of ir- 
rationality as you. 

“We must establish our own 
precedent, since there is no re- 
cent one and the ancient punish- 
ments are not acceptable to us. 



LIFE SENTENCE 



43 



Therefore, because we are hu- 
mane and reasoning persons, the 
Court orders that the defendant, 
Oliver Symmes, be placed in the 
National Hospital for observa- 
tion, study and experimentation 
so that this crime may never 
again be repeated. He is to be 
kept there under perpetual care 
until no possible human skill or 
resource can further sustain life 
in his body.” 

Someone jumped erect beside 
him, quivering with horror and 
indignation. It was his lawyer. 

“Your Honor, we throw our- 
selves upon the mercy of the 
Court. No matter what the crime 
of the defendant, this is a great- 
er one. For this is a crime not 
just against my client, but 
against all men. This sentence 
robs all men of their most prec- 
ious freedom — the right to die at 
their appointed times. Nothing 
is more damaging to the basic 
dignity of the human race than 
this most hideous . . .” 

“. . . This Court recognizes 
only the four freedoms. The free- 
dom of death is not one of these. 
The sentence stands. The Court 
is adjourned.” 

There were tears in the eyes of 
his lawyer, although young Oli- 
ver Symmes did not quite com- 
prehend, as yet, their meaning. 
Hands, rougher than before, 
grasped his arms with strange 
firmness and led him off into . . . 



S HADOWS. They come in 
cycles, each prompted to ac- 
tivity by the one preceding it. 
They flutter in unbelievable 
clusters, wheel in untranslatable 
formations through the cerebric 
wasteland that is the aged mind 
of Oliver Symmes. They have no 
meaning to him, save for a fur- 
tive spark of recognition that in- 
trudes upon him once in a while. 

The woman in the green uni- 
form, standing to. one side of the 
window, smiled at him again. It 
was much simpler to care for 
him, she thought, if only one 
conceived of him as being a sort 
of sweet little wornout teddy 
l^ar. Yes, that was what he was, 
a little teddy bear that had got- 
ten most of its stuffing lost and 
had shriveled and shrunk. And 
one can easily love and pamper 
a teddy bear. 

“Can you see the crowd all 
right, Mr. Symmes? This is a 
good place to watch from, isn’t 
it?” 

Her words fell upon his ears, 
setting up vibrations and oscilla- 
tions in the basilar membranes. 
Nerve cells triggered impulses 
that sped along neutral pathways 
to the withered cortex, where 
they lost themselves in the welter 
of atrophy and disintegration. 
They emerged into his conscious- 
ness as part of a gestaltic confu- 
sion. 

“Isn’t it exciting, watching 



44 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



from here?” she asked, showing 
enthusiasm at the sight of the 
crowd below. “You should be en- 
joying this immensely, you know. 
Not all the people here have 
windows to look out of like this.” 
There, now, that should make 
him feel a little better. 

His eyes, in their wandering, 
came to rest upon her uniform, 
so cool and comforting in its 
greenness. A flicker of light 
gleamed from the metallic in- 
signia on her sleeve: “To Care 
for the Aged.” Somewhere inside 
him an association clicked, a 
brief fire of response to a past 
event kindled into a short-lived 
flame, lighting the way through 
cobwebs for another shadow . . . 

H OW many years he had been 
waiting for the opportunity, 
he did not know. It seemed like 
decades, although it might have 
been only a handful of months. 
And all the time he had waited, 
he could feel himself growing old- 
er, could sense the syneresis, the 
slow solidifying of the life ele- 
ments within him. He sat quietly 
and grew old, thinking the chance 
would never come. 

But it did come, when he had 
least expected it. 

It was a treat — his birthday. 
Because of it, they had given him 
actual food for the first time in 
years: a cake, conspicuous in its 



barrenness of candles; a glass of 
real vegetable juices; a dab of 
potato; an indescribable green 
that might have been anything at 
all; and a little steak. A succu- 
lent, savory-looking piece of gen- 
uine meat. 

The richness of the food would 
probably make him sick, so un- 
accustomed to solid food was his 
digestive tract by now, but it 
would be worth the pain. 

And it was then that he saw 
the knife. 

It lay there on the tray, its 
honed edge glittering in the light 
of the sun. A sharp knife, capable 
of cutting steak — or flesh of any 
kind. 

“Well, how do you like your 
birthday present, Mr. Symmes?” 

He looked up quickly at the 
woman standing beside the tray. 
The yellow pallor of her middle- 
aged skin matched the color of 
her uniform. She wore the insig- 
nia of a geriatrics supervisor. 

He let a little smile flicker 
across his face. “Why, it’s . . . 
it’s wonderful. I never expected 
it at all. It’s been so long, you 
know. So very long.” 

How could he get rid of her? 
If he tried anything with her 
watching, she would stop him. 
And then he’d never get another 
chance. 

“I’m glad you like it, Mr. 
Symmes. Synthetic foods do get 



LIFE SENTENCE 



45 



tiresome after a while, don’t 
they?” 

The idea came with sudden- 
ness and he responded to it 
quickly. 

“But where are my pink pills? 

I always take them at lunch.” 
“You won’t need them if 
you’re eating real food.” 

He whipped his voice into pet- 
ulance: “Yes, I will! I don’t care 
if it is real food — I want my 
pills!” 

“I’ll get them for you later. Go 
ahead and eat first.” 

“I can’t eat until I take my 
pink pills! You ought to know 
that! I won’t touch a thing until 
I get them! You’ve ruined my 
birthday party.” 

The whims of the aging are 
without logic, so she went to get 
the pills, leaving Oliver Symmes 
and the gleaming, sharp knife 
together, unattended. 

W HERE should he start? The 
heart? No, that would be 
too quick, too easy to repair. 
Then where? 

He remembered his studies of 
the middle Japanese culture and 
the methods of suicide practiced 
at that time. The intestines! So 
many of them to cut and slash 
at, so much damage that might 
be done before death set in! May- 
be even the lungs! But he must 
hurry. 

Picking up the knife, he point- 



ed it as his appendix. For a mo- 
ment he hesitated, and his eyes 
observed again the little feast 
laid out before him. He thought 
briefly about pausing for just a 
while to taste the little steak, to 
nibble briefly at the delectable- 
looking cake. He hated to leave 
it untouched. It had been such a 
long time . . . 

The sudden memory of time, 
and how much of it he had spent 
hoping for this moment, snapped 
his attention back to the knife. 
Steeling his grip on it, he pressed 
it in hard. 

His eyes bulged with the ex- 
cruciating pain as he wrenched 
the knife from right to left, twist- 
ing it wildly as he went, blindly 
slashing at his vital organs with 
the hope that once and for all he 
could stop the long and eternal 
waiting. 

His mouth filled with the taste 
of blood. He spat it out through 
clenched teeth. It gushed down 
his chin, staining the cleanness 
of his robe. His lips parted to 
scream. 

And then his eyes closed. 

A ND opened again! He was 
staring at the ceiling, but the 
men and women standing around 
him got in his way. 

Their lips were moving, their 
faces unperturbed. 

“That was a nasty thing for 
him to do.” 



46 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“They all do it, once or twice, 
until they learn.” 

“Third time for him, isn’t it?” 
“Yes, I believe so. First time 
he tried hanging himself. Second 
time he was beating his head 
against the wall when we came 
and stopped him. Bloody mess 
that one was.” 

“Nothing to compare with this, 
of course.” 

“Well, naturally.” 

Oliver Symmes felt sick with 
fear of frustration. 

“Nice technique you showed, 
Doctor. He’d been dead at least 
an hour when we started, hadn’t 
he?” 

“Almost two,” someone else 
said. “An amazing job.” 

“Thank you. But it wasn’t too 
difficult. Just a little patching 
here and there.” 

He felt his legs being shifted 
for him. 

“Be careful there, Nurse. Han- 
dle him gently. Fragilitas Ossium, 
you know. Old bones break very 
easily.” 

“Sorry, Doctor.” 

“Not that we couldn’t fix them 
up immediately if they did.” 
“Naturally, Doctor.” 

“I wish they’d try something 
different for a change.” • 

“The woman in the next room 
lost an eye last year, trying to 
reach the pre-frontals. Good as 
new now, of course.” 

He wanted to vomit at the use- 



lessness of it all. 

“By the way, what’s he in for? 
Do you know?” 

“No, I’d have to look it up.” 
“Probably newness.” 

“Or taxes.” 

“Or maybe even slander.” 

“Is that on the prescribed anti- 
social list now?” 

“Oh, yes. It was passed just 
before the destructive criticism 
law.” 

“Think he’ll try this messy 
business again?” ■ 

“They all do.” 

“They do, don’t they? Don’t 
they ever learn it’s no use?” 
“Eventually. Some are just 
harder* to convince than others.” 
The pain was gone. He closed 
his eyes and slipped off into 
darkness again and into . . . 

S HADOWS. In slow and pon- 
derous fashion they float 
across the sea of his mind, like 
wandering bits of sargasso weed 
on the brackish water of a dying 
ocean. Each one dreamed a thou- 
sand times too many, each sep- 
arate strand of memory-weed 
now nothing but a stereotyped 
shred of what might have once 
been a part of life and of living. 

With the quietness of deserted 
ships they drift in procession 
past his sphere of consciousness. 
Wait! There’s one that seemS fa- 
miliar. He stops the mental pa- 
rade for a moment, not hearing 



LIFE SENTENCE 



47 



the voice of his companion, the 
woman in the green uniform. 

“It’s getting late, Mr. Sym- 
mes.” She turned from the win- 
dow and glanced at the wizened- 
ness, the fragile remainder of the 
man, the almost empty shell. It 
was a pity he wasn’t able to play 
games with her like some of the 
others. That made it so much 
easier. “Don’t you think it’s 
about time you went to bed? 
Early to bed and early to rise, 
you know.” 

That memory of a needle, 
pointed and gleaming. What was 
it? 

Oh, yes. Stick it in his arm, 
push the plunger, pull it out; 
and wait for him to die. First 
one disease and then another, 
to each he happily succumbed, 
in the interests of science, only 
to be resuscitated. Each time a 
willing volunteer, an eager guinea 
pig, he had hoped for the ease 
of death, praying that for once 
they’d wait too long, the germs 
would prove too virulent, that 
something would go wrong. 

“There, now, you just lie back 
and get comfortable,” she said, 
walking over to the table. “But 
it has been fun, hasn’t it? Watch- 
ing the crowds, I mean.” She 
felt he must be much happier 
now, and the knowledge of it 
gave her a sense of success. She 
was living up to her pledge, “To 
Care for the Aged.” 



Diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer 
of the stomach, tumor of the 
brain. He’d had them all. and 
many others. They had swarmed 
to him through the gouged skin- 
openings made by the gleaming 
needle. And each had brought 
the freedom of blackness, of 
death, sometimes for an hour, 
sometimes for a whole week. But 
always life returned again, and 
the waiting, waiting, waiting. 

“I enjoy New Year’s myself,” 
the woman said, her hands ca- 
ressing a dial. Slowly, with gen- 
tle undulation, his chair rose 
from the floor and cradled the 
aged tiredness that was Oliver 
Symmes to his bed. With almost 
tender devotion, his body was 
mechanically shifted from the 
portable chair to the freshly made 
bed. 

O NE of his arms was caught 
for just a moment under the 
slight weight of his body. There 
was a short, snapping sound, but 
Oliver Symmes took no notice. 
His face remained impassive. 
Even pain had lost its meaning. 

“It’s a pity we couldn’t have 
been outside with the rest of 
them, celebrating,” she said, as 
she arranged the covers around 
him, not noticing the arm herself. 

This was the part of her job 
she enjoyed most — tucking the 
nice little man into bed. He did 
look sweet there, under the cov- 



48 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



ers, didn’t he? 

“Just imagine, Mr. Symmes, 
another year’s gone by, and what 
have we accomplished?” 

Her prattle seeped in and he 
became aware of it and what she 
was saying. New Year? 

“What — what year — is this?” 
He spoke with great difficulty, 
from the long disuse of vocal 
cords. It was hardly more than 
a whisper, but she heard and 
was startled. 

“Why, Mr. Symmes, it’s been 
so long since you’ve talked.” She 
paused, but realized that she had 
not answered his question. 

“It’s ’73, of course. Last year 
was ’72, so tonight’s the start of 
’73.” 

’73? Had it been fifty years 
since he came here? Had it been 
just that long? 

“What — ” She leaned closer to 
him as he struggled for the word. 
“What — century?” 

Her astonishment was gone. 
He was teasing her, like the 
woman on the next level. These 
old ones were great for that! 

“Now, Mr. Symmes, everybody 
knows what century it is.” She 
smiled at him glowingly, think- 
ing she had caught him at a 
prank. It jvas nice, she thought, 
to have gotten through to him 
tonight, on the eve* of the new 



year. That meant that she was 
living up to her motto the way 
she ought to be. 

She’d have to tell the super- 
visor about it. 

Oliver Symmes turned to face 
the ceiling, his mind full of dusty 
whispers. What century was it? 
She hadn’t answered. It might 
have been a hundred and fifty 
years ago he came here, instead 
of just fifty. Or possibly two hun- 
dred and fifty, or . . . 

"Now, you be good, and sleep 
tight, and I’ll see you in the 
morning.” Her hand passed over 
a glowing stud and the room 
light dimmed to a quiet glow. 
Lying there in the bed, he did 
look like a teddy bear, a dear 
little teddy bear. She was so 
happy. 

“Good night, Mr. Symmes.” 

She closed the door. 

O UTSIDE, bells were ringing. 
“Happy New Year.” 

The ceiling stared back at him. 
The mad sound of people 
crazed for the moment, shouting, 
echoed the bells. 

“Happy New Year!” 

He turned his head^to one side. 
“Happy New Year!” 

And again . . . and again . . . 
and again. 

—james McConnell 



LIFE SENTENCE 



49 



The 

Inhabited 

By 

RICHARD 

WILSON 



Illustrated 

T WO slitted green eyes 
loomed up directly in front 
of him. He plunged into 
them immediately. 




ASHMAN 

He had just made the voyage, 
naked through the dimension 
stratum, and he scurried into the 
first available refuge, to hover 



50 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




Containing a foe is sound military thinking 
— unless it's carried out so literally that 
everybody becomes an innocent Trojan Horse! 



there, gasping. 

The word “he” does not strictly 
apply to the creature, for it had 
no sex, nor are the words 



“naked,” “scurried,” “hover” and 
“gasping” accurate at all. But 
there are no English words to de- 
scribe properly what it was and 



THE INHABITED 



51 



how it moved, except in very gen- 
eral terms. There are no Asiatic, 
African or European words, 
though perhaps there are mathe- 
matical symbols. But, because 
this is not a technical paper, the 
symbols have no place in it. 

He was a sort of spy, a sort of 
fifth-columnist. He had some of 
the characteristics of a kamikaze 
pilot, too, because there was no 
telling if he’d get back from his 
mission. 

Hovering in his refuge and 
gasping for breath, so to speak, 
he tried to compose his thoughts 
after the terrifying journey and 
adjust himself to his new envi- 
ronment, so he could get to work. 
His job, as first traveler to this 
new world, the Earth, was to 
learn if it were suitable for habi- 
tation by his fellow beings back 
home. Their world was about 
ended and they had to move or 
die. 

He was being discomfited, how- 
ever, in his initial adjustment. 
His first stop jn the new world — 
unfortunately, not only for his 
dignity, but for his equilibrium — 
had been in the mind of a cat. 

TT was his own fault, really. He 
-*• and the others had decided 
that his first in a series of tem- 
porary habitations should be in 
one of the lower order of animals. 
It was a matter of precaution — 
the mind would be easy to con- 



trol, if it came to a contest. Also, 
there would be less chance of run- 
ning into a mind-screen and be- 
ing trapped or destroyed. 

The cat had no mind-screen, 
of course; some might even have 
argued that she didn’t have a 
mind, especially the human cou- 
ple she lived with. But whatever 
she did have was actively at 
work, feeling the solid tree- 
branch under her claws and the 
leaves against which her tail 
switched and seeing the half- 
grown chickens below. 

The chickens were scratching 
in the forbidden vegetable gar- 
den. The cat, the runt of her lit- 
ter and thus named Midge, often 
had been chased out of the gar- 
den herself, but it was no sense 
of justice which now set her little 
gray behind to wriggling in prep- 
aration for her leap. It was mis- 
chief, pure and simple, which mo- 
tivated her. 

Midge leaped, and the visitor, 
who had made the journey be- 
tween dimensions without losing 
consciousness, blacked out. 

When he revived, he was being 
rocketed along in an up-and- 
down and at the same time side- 
ward series of motions which got 
him all giddy. With an effort he 
oriented himself so that the cat’s 
vision became his, and he watch- 
ed in distaste as the chickens 
scurried, scrawny wings lifted 
and beaks achirp, this way and 



52 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



that to escape the monstrous cat. 

The cat never touched the 
chickens; she was content to chase 
them. When she had divided the 
flock in half, six in the pea patch 
and six under the porch, she lay 
down in the shade of the front 
steps and reflectively licked a 
paw. 

The spy got the impression of 
reflection, but he was baffledly 
unable to figure out what the cat 
was reflecting on. Midge in turn 
licked a paw, rolled in the dust, 
arched her back against the warm 
stone of the steps and snapped 
cautiously at a low-flying wasp. 
She was a contented cat. The im- 
pression of contentment came 
through very well. 

The dimension traveler got 
only one other impression at the 
moment— one of languor. 

The cat, after a prodigious pink 
yawn, went to sleep. The trav- 
eler, although he had never 
known the experience of volun- 
tary unconsciousness, was tempt- 
ed to do the same. But he fought 
against the influence of his host 
and, robbed of vision with the 
closing of the cat’s eyes, he medi- 
tated. 

He had been on Earth less than 
ten minutes, but his meditation 
consisted of saying to himself in 
his own way that if he was ever 
going to get anything done, he’d 
better escape from this cat’s 
mind. 



He accomplished that a few 
minutes later, when there was a 
crunching of gravel in the drive- 
way and a battered Plymouth 
stopped and a man stepped out. 
Midge opened her eyes, crept up 
behind a row of stones border- 
ing the path to the driveway and 
jumped delicately out at the man, 
who tried unsuccessfully to gather 
her into his arms. 

Through the cat’s eyes from 
behind the porch steps, where 
Midge had fled, the traveler took 
stock of the human being it was 
about to inhabit: 

Five-feet-elevenish, thirtyish, 
blond-brown-haired, blue-sum- 
mer-suited. 

And no mind-screen. 

The traveler traveled and in an 
instant he was looking down 
from his new height at the gray 
undersized cat. Then the screen 
door of the porch opened and a 
female human being appeared. 

W ITH the male human im- 
pressions now his, the trav- 
eler experienced some interesting 
sensations. There was a body-to- 
body togetherness apparently 
called “gimmea hug” and a 
face-to-face-touching ceremony, 
“kiss.” 

“Hmm,” thought the traveler, 
in his own way. “Hmm.” 

The greeting ceremony was fol- 
lowed by one that had this cate- 
chism: 



THE INHABITED 



53 



“Suppareddi?" 

“Onnatable.” 

Then came the “eating.” 

This eating, something he had 
never' done, was all right, he de- 
cided. He wondered if cats ate. 
too. Yes, Midge was under the 
gas stove, chewing delicately at 
a different kind of preparation. 

There was a great deal of eat- 
ing. The traveler knew from the 
inspection of the mind he was 
inhabiting that the man was 
enormously hungry and tired al- 
most to exhaustion. 

“The damn job had to go out 
today,” was what had happened. 
"We worked till almost eight 
o’clock. I think I’ll take a nap 
after supper while you do the 
dishes.” 

The traveler understood per- 
fectly, for he was a very sympa- 
thetic type. That was one reason 
they had chosen him for the 
transdimensional exploration. 
They had figured the best applU 
cant for the job would be one 
with an intellect highly attuned 
to the vibrations of these others, 
known dimly through the warp- 
view, one extremely sensitive and 
with a great capacity for appre- 
ciation. Shrewd, too, of course. 

The traveler tried to exercise 
control. Just a trace of it at first. 
He attempted to dissuade the 
man from having his nap. But his 
effort was ignored. 

The man went to sleep as soon 



as he lay down on the couch in 
the living room. Once again, as 
the eyes closed, the traveler was 
imprisoned. He hadn’t realized it 
until now, but he evidently 
couldn’t transfer from one mind 
to another except through the 
eyes, once he was inside. He had 
planned to explore the woman’s 
‘mind, but now he was trapped, at 
least temporarily. 

Oh, well. He composed himself 
as best he could to await the 
awakening. This sleeping busi- 
ness was a waste of time. 

There were footsteps and a 
whistling noise outside. The in- 
habited man heard the sounds 
and woke up, irritated. He opened 
his eyes a slit as his wife told the 
neighbor that Charlie was taking 
a nap, worn out from a hard day 
at the office, and the visitor, dart- 
ing free, transferred again. 

But he miscalculated and there 
he was in the mind of the neigh- 
bor. Irritated with himself, the 
traveler was about to jump to the 
mind of the woman when he was 
caught up in the excitement that 
was consuming his new host. 

“Sorry,” said the neighbor. 
“The new batch of records I or- 
dered came toflay and I thought 
Charlie’d like to hear them. Tell 
him to come over tomorrow 
night, if he wants to hear the sol- 
idest combo since Muggsy’s 
Roseland days.” 

The wife said all right, George, 



54 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



she’d tell him. But the traveler 
was experiencing the excited 
memories of a dixieland jfizz 
band in his new host’s mind, and 
he knew he’d be hearing these 
fantastically wonderful new 
sounds at first hand as soon as 
George got back to his turntable. 

They could hardly wait, 
George and his inhabitant both. 

H IS inhabitant had come from 
a dimension- world of vast, 
contemplative silences. There was 
no talk, no speech vibrations, no 
noise which could not be shut out 
by the turning of a mental switch. 
Communication was from mind 
to mind, not from mouth to ear. 
It was a world of peaceful silence, 
where everything had been done, 
where the struggle for physical 
existence had ended, and where 
there remained only the sweet 
fruits of past labor to be enjoyed. 

That had been the state of af- 
fairs, at any rate, up until the 
time of the Change, which was 
something the beings of the world 
could not stop. It was not a new 
threat from the lower orders, 
which they had met and over- 
come before, innumerable times. 
It was not a threat from outside 
— no invasion such as they had 
turned back in the past. Nor was 
it a cooling of their world or the 
danger of imminent collision with 
another. 

The Change came from within. 



It was decadence. There was 
nothing left for the beings to do. 
They had solved all their prob- 
lems and could find no new ones. 
They had exhausted the intricate 
workings of reflection, academic 
hypothetica and mind-play; there 
hadn’t been a new game, .for in- 
stance, in the lifetime of the old- 
est inhabitant. 

And so they were dying of 
boredom. This very realization 
had for a time halted the creep- 
ing menace, because, as they 
came to accept it and discuss 
ways of meeting it, the peril itself 
subsided. But the moment they 
relaxed, the Change started again. 

Something had to be done. 
Mere theorizing about their situ- 
ation was not enough. It was then 
that they sent their spy abroad. 

Because they had at one time 
or another visited each of the 
planets in their solar system and 
had exhausted their possibilities 
or found them barren, and be- 
cause they were not equipped, 
even at the peak of their physi- 
cal development, for intergalactic 
flight, there remained only one 
way to travel — in time. 

Not forward or backward, for 
both had been tried. Travel ahead 
had been discouraging — in fact, 
it had convinced them that their 
normal passage through the years 
had to be stopped. The reason 
had been made dramatically clear 
— they, the master race, did not 



THE INHABITED 



55 



exist in the future. They had van- 
ished' and the lower forms of life 
had begun to take over. 

Travel into the past would be 
even more boring than continued 
existence in the present, they re- 
alized, because they would be re- 
living the experiences they had 
had and still vividly remembered, 
and would be incapable of chang- 
ing them. It would be both tire- 
some and frustrating. 

That left only one way to go — 
sideways in time, across the di- 
mension line — to a world like 
their own, but which had devel- - 
oped so differently through the 
eons that to visit it and conquer 
the minds of its inhabitants 
would be worth while. 

In that way they picked Earth 
for their victim and sent out their 
spy. Just one spy. If he didn’t 
return, they’d send another. 
There was enough time. And they 
had to be sure. 

G EORGE put a record on the 
phonograph and fixed him- 
self a drink while the machine 
warmed up. 

The interdimensional invader 
reacted pleasurably to the taste 
and instant warming effect of the 
liquor on George’s mind. 

“Ahh!” said George aloud, and 
his temporary inhabitant agreed 
with him. 

George lifted the phonograph 
needle into the groove and went 



to sit on the edge of a chair. Jazz 
poured out of the speaker and 
the man beat out the time with 
his heels and toes. 

The visitor in his mind experi- 
mented with control. He went a', 
it subtly, at first, so as not to 
alarm his host. He tried to quiet 
the beating of time with the feet. 
He suggested that George cross 
his Tegs instead. The beating of 
time continued. The visitor urged 
that George do this little thing 
he asked; he bent -all his powers 
to the suggestion, concentrating 
on the tapping feet. There wasn’t 
even a glimmer of reaction. 

Instead, there was a reverse 
effect. The pounding of music 
was insistent. The visitor relaxed. 
He rationalized and told himself 
he would try another time. Now 
he would observe this phenom- 
enon. But he became more than 
just an observer. 

The visitor reeled with sensa- 
tion. The vibrations gripped him, 
twisted him and wrung him out. 
He was limp, palpitating and 
thoroughly happy when the rec- 
ord ended and George got up 
immediately to put on another. 

Hours later, drunk with the 
jazz and the liquor, the visitor 
went blissfully to sleep inside 
George’s mind when his host went 
to bed. 

He awoke, with George, to the 
experience of a nagging throb. 
But in a few minutes, after a 



56 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



shower, shave and breakfast with 
steaming coffee, it was gone, and 
the visitor looked forward to the 
coming day. 

It was George’s day off and he 
was going fishing. Humming to 
himself, he got out his reel and 
flies and other paraphernalia and 
contentedly arranged them in the 
back of his car. Visions of the 
fine, quiet time he was going to 
have went through George’s mind, 
and his inhabitant decided he had 
better leave. He had to get on 
with his exploration; he mustn’t 
allow himself to be trapped into 
just having fun. 

But he stayed with George as 
the fisherman drove his car out 
of the garage and along a high- 
way. The day was sunny and 
warm. There was a slight wind 
and the green trees sighed deli- 
cately in it. The birds were pleas- 
antly vocal and the colors were 
superb. 

The visitor found it oddly fa- 
miliar. Then he realized what it 
was. 

His world was like this, too. 
It had the trees, the birds, the 
wind and the colors. All were 
there. But its people had long 
since ceased to appreciate them. 
Their existence had turned in- 
ward and the external things no 
longer were of interest. Yet the 
visitor, through George’s eyes, 
found this world delightful. He 
reveled in its beauty, its breath- 



taking panorama and its balance. 
And he wondered if he was able 
to appreciate it for the first time 
now because he was 'Being active, 
although in a vicarious way, and 
participating in life, instead of 
merely reflecting on it. This would 
be a clue to have analyzed by the 
greater minds to which he would 
report. 

Then, with a wrench, the vis- 
itor chided himself. He was al- 
lowing himself to identify too 
closely with this mortal, with his 
appreciation of such diverse pur- 
suits as jazz and fishing. He had 
to get on. There was work to be 
done. 

George waved to a boy playing 
in a field and the boy waved 
back. With the contact of their 
eyes, the visitor was inside the 
boy’s mind. 

T HE boy had a dog. It was a 
great, lumbering mass of af- 
fection, a shaggy, loving, prank- 
ish beast. A protector and a play- 
mate, strong and gentle. 

Now that the visitor was in the 
boy’s mind, he adored the animal, 
and the dog worshiped him. 

He fought to be rational. 
“Come now,” he told himself, 
“don’t get carried away.” He at- 
tempted control. A simple thing. 
He would have the boy pull the 
dog’s ear, gently. He concentrat- 
ed, suggested. But all his efforts 
were thwarted. The boy leaped 



58 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



at the dog, grabbed it around the 
middle. The dog responded, 
prancing free. 

The visitor gave up. He re- 
laxed. 

Great waves of mute, suffocat- 
ing love enveloped him. He swam 
for a few minutes in a pool of joy. 
as the boy and dog wrestled, 
rolled over each other in the tall 
grass, charged ferociously with 
teeth bared and growls issuing 
from both throats, finally to sub- 
side panting and laughing on the 
ground while the clouds swept 
majestically overhead across the 
blue sky. 

He could swear the dog was 
laughing, too. 

As they lay there, exhausted 
for the moment, a young woman 
came upon them. The visitor saw 
her looking down at them, the 
soft breeze tugging at her dark 
hair and skirt. Her hands were 
thrust into the pockets of her 
jacket. She was barefoot and she 
wriggled her toes so that blades 
of grass came up between them. 

“Hello, Jimmy,” she said. 
“Hello, Max, you old monster.” 

The dog thumped the ground 
with his tail. 

“Hello, Mrs. Tanner,” the boy 
said. “How’s the baby coming?” 

The girl smiled. “Just fine, 
Jimmy. It’s* beginning to kick 
a little now. It kind of tickles. 
And you know what?” 

“What?” asked Jimmy. The 



visitor in the boy’s mind wanted 
to know, too. 

“I hope it’s a boy, and that he 
grows up to be just like you.” 

“Aw.” The boy rolled over and 
hid his face in the grass. Then 
he peered around. “Honest?” 

“Honest,” she said. 

“Gee whiz.” The boy was so 
embarrassed that he had to leave. 
“Me and Max are going down to 
the swimmin’ hole. You wanta 
come?” 

“No, thanks. You go ahead. I 
think I’ll just sit here in the Sun 
for a while and watch my toes 
curl.” 

As they said good-by, the vis- 
itor traveled to the new mind. 

W ITH the girl’s eyes, he saw 
the boy and the dog run- 
ning across the meadow and 
down to the stream at the edge 
of the woods. 

The traveler experienced a sen- 
sation of tremendous fondness as 
he watched them go. 

But he mustn’t get carried 
away, he told himself. He must 
make another attempt to take 
command. This girl might be the 
one he could influence. She was 
doing nothing active; her mind 
was relaxed. 

The visitor bent himself to the 
task. He would be cleverly sim- 
ple. He would have her pick a 
daisy. They were all around at 
her feet. He concentrated. Her 



THE INHABITED 



59 



gaze traveled back across the 
meadow to the grassy knoll on 
which she was standing. She sat. 
She stretched out her arms be- 
hind her and leaned back on 
them. She tossed her hair and 
gazed into the sky. 

She wasn’t even thinking of the 
daisy. 

Irritated, he gathered all his 
powers into a compact mass and 
hurled them at her mind. 

But with a swoop and a soar, 
he was carried up and away, 
through the sweet summer air, to 
a cloud of white softness. 

This was not what he had 
planned, by any means. 

A steady, warm breeze envel- 
oped him and there was a tinkle 
of faraway music. It frightened 
him and he struggled to get back 
into contact with the girl’s mind. 
But there was no contact. Appar- 
ently he had been cast out, 
against his will. 

The forces of creation buffeted 
him. His dizzying flight carried 
him through the clean air in swift 
journey from horizon to horizon, 
then up, up and out beyond the 
limits of the atmosphere, only to 
return him in a trice to the breast 
of the rolling meadow. He was 
conscious now of the steady 
growth of slim green leaves as 
they pressed confidently through 
the nurturing Earth, of the other 
tiny living things in and on the 
Earth, and the heartbeat of the 



Earth itself, assuring him with its 
great strength of the continuation 
of all things. 

Then he was back with the girl, 
watching through her eyes a but- 
terfly as it fluttered to rest on a 
flower and perched there, gently 
waving its gaudy wings. 

He had not been cast out. The 
young woman herself had gone 
on that wild journey to the heav- 
ens, not only with her mind, but 
with her entire being, attuned to 
the rest of creation. There was a 
continuity, he realized, a oneness 
between herself, the mother-to- 
be, and the Universe. With her, 
then, he felt the stirrings of new 
life, and he was proud and con- 
tent. 

He forgot for the moment that 
he had been a failure. 

T HE soft breeze seemed to turn 
chill. The Sun was still high 
and unclouded, but its warmth 
was gone. With the girl, he felt 
a prickling along the spine. She 
turned her head slightly and, 
through her eyes, he saw, a few 
yards away in tall grass, a creep- 
ing man. 

The eyes of the man were fixed 
on the girl’s body and the trav- 
eler felt her thrill of terror. The 
man lay there for a moment, 
hands flat on the ground under 
his chest. Then he moved for- 
ward, inching toward her. 

The girl screamed. Her terror 



60 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



gripped the visitor. He was help- 
less. His thoughts whirled into 
chaos, following hers. 

The eyes of the creeping man 
flicked from side to side, then up. 
The visitor quivered and cringed 
with the girl when she screamed 
again. As the torrent of fright- 
ened sound poured from her 
throat, the creeping man looked 
into her eyes. Instantly the vis- 
itor was sucked into his mind. 

It was a maelstrom. A tremen- 
dous conflict was going on in it. 
One part of it was urging the 
body on in its fantastic crawl 
toward the young woman frozen 
in terror against the sky. The vis- 
itor was aware of the other part, 
submerged and struggling feebly, 
trying to get through with a mes- 
sage of reason. But it was handi- 
capped. The visitor sensed these 
efforts being nullified by a crush- 
ing weight of shame. 

The traveler fought against full 
identification with the deranged 
part of the mind. Nevertheless, 
he sought to understand it, as he 
had understood the other minds 
he’d visited. But there was noth- 
ing to understand. The creeping 
man had no plan. There was no 
reason for his action. 

The visitor felt only a compul- 
sion which said, “You must! You 
must!’’ 

The visitor was frightened. And 
then he realized that he was less 
frightened than the man was. The 



terror felt by the creeping man 
was greater than the fear the 
visitor had experienced with the 
girl. 

There were shouts and bark- 
ing. He heard the shrill cry of a 
boy. “Go get him, Max!’’ 

There was a squeal of brakes 
from the road and a pounding of 
heavy footsteps coming toward 
them. 

With the man, the visitor rose 
up, confused, scared. A great 
shaggy weight hurled itself and 
a growling, sharp-toothed mouth 
sought a throat. 

A voice yelled, “Don’t shoot! 
The dog’s got him!” 

Then blackness. 

M ERSEY.” The voice sum- 
moned the visitor, hud- 
dling in a corner of the deranged 
mind, fearing contamination. 

The eyes opened, looked up at 
the ceiling of a barred cell. 

“Dr. Cloyd is here to see you,” 
the voice said. 

The visitor felt the mind of his 
host seeking to close out the 
words and the world, to return to 
sheltering darkness. 

There was a rattle of keys and 
the opening of an iron door. 

The eyes opened as a hand 
shook the psychotic Mersey by 
the shoulder. The visitor sought 
escape, but the eyes avoided those 
of the other. 

“Come with me, son,” the doc- 



THE INHABITED 



61 



tor’s voice said. “Don’t be fright- 
ened. No one will hurt you. We’ll 
have a talk.’’ 

Mersey shook off the hand on 
his shoulder. 

“Drop dead,” he muttered. 

“That wouldn’t help any- 
thing,” the doctor said. “Come 
on, man.” 

Mersey sat up and, through his 
eyes, the traveler saw the doctor’s 
legs. Were they legs or were they 
iron bars? The traveler cringed 
away from the mad thought. 

A room with a desk, a chair, a 
couch, and sunlight through a 
window. Crawling sunlit snakes. 
The visitor shuddered. He sought 
the part of the mind that was 
clear, but he sought in vain. Only 
the whirling chaos and the dis- 
torted images remained now. 

There was a pain in the throat 
and with Mersey he lifted a hand 
to it. Bandaged — gleaming teeth 
and a snarling animal’s mouth — 
fear, despair and hatred. With 
the prisoner, he collapsed on the 
couch. 

“Lie down, if you like,” said 
Dr. Cloyd’s voice. “Try to relax. 
Let me help you.” 

“Drop dead,” Mersey replied 
automatically. The visitor felt 
the tenseness of the man, the un- 
reasoning fear, and the resent- 
ment. 

But as the man lay there, the 
traveler sensed a calming of the 
turbulence. There was an urgent 



rational thought. He concentrated 
and tried to help the man phrase 
it. 

“The girl — is she all right? Did 
I . . . ?” 

“She’s all right.” The doctor’c 
voice was soothing. It pushed 
back the shadows a little. “She’s 
perfectly all right.” 

The visitor sensed a dulled re- 
lief in Mersey’s mind. The 
shadows still whirled, but they 
were less ominous. He suggested 
a question, exulted as Mersey 
attempted to phrase it: “Doctor, 
am I real bad off? Can . . . ?” 
But still the shadows. 

“We’ll work together,” said the 
doctor’s voice. “You’ve been ill, 
but so have others. With your 
help, we can make you well.” 
The traveler made a tremen- 
dous effort. He urged Mersey to 
say: “I’ll help, doctor. I want 
to find peace.” 

- But then Mersey’s voice went 
on: “I must find a new home. We 
need a new home. We can’t stay 
where we are.” 

T HE traveler was shocked at 
the words. He hadn’t intended 
them to come out that way. 
Somehow Mersey had voiced the 
underlying thoughts of his people. 
The traveler sought the doctor’s 
reaction, but Mersey wouldn’t 
look at him. The man’s gaze was 
fixed on the ceiling above the 
couch. 



62 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“Of course,” the doctor said. 
His words were false, the visitor 
realized; he was humoring the 
madman. 

“We had so much, but now 
there is no future,” Mersey said. 
The visitor tried to stop him. He 
would not be stopped. “We can’t 
stay much longer. We’ll die. We 
must find a new world. Maybe 
you can help us.” 

Dr. Cloyd spoke and there was 
no hint of surprise in his voice. 

“I’ll help you all I can. Would 
you care to tell me more about 
your world?” 

Desperately, the visitor fought 
to control the flow of Mersey’s 
words. He had opened the gate 
to the other world — how, he did 
not know — and all of his know- 
ledge and memories now were 
Mersey’s. But the traveler could 
not communicate with the dis- 
ordered mind. He could only 
communicate through it, and 
then involuntarily. If he could 
escape the mind . . . but he could 
not escape. Mersey’s eyes were 
fixed on the ceiling. He would 
not look at the doctor. 

“A dying world,” Mersey said. 
“It will live on after us, but we 
will die because we have finished. 
There’s nothing more to do. The 
Change is Upon, us, and we must 
flee it or die. I have been sent 
here as a last hope, as an emis- 
sary to learn if this world is the 
answer. I have traveled among 



you and I have found good 
things. Your world is much like 
ours, physically, but it has not 
grown as fast or as far as ours, 
and we would be happy here, 
among you, if we could control.” 

TT'HE words from Mersey’s 
throat had come falteringly at 
first, but now they were strong, 
although the tone was flat and 
expressionless. The words went 
on; 

“But we can’t control. I’ve 
tried and failed. At best we can 
co-exist, as observers and vicari- 
ous participants, but we must 
surrender choice. Is that to be 
our destiny — to live on, but to 
be denied all except contempla- 
tion — to live on as guests among 
you, accepting your ways and 
sharing them, but with no power 
to change them?” 

The traveler shouted at Mer- 
sey’s mind in soundless fury: 
“Shut up! Shut up!” 

Mersey stopped talking. 

“Go on,” said the doctor softly. 
“This is very interesting.” 

“Shut up!” said the traveler 
voicelessly, yet with frantic ur- 
gency. 

The madman was silent. His 
body was perfectly still, except 
for his calm breathing. The visi- 
tor gazed through his eyes in the 
only possible direction — up at the 
ceiling. He tried another com- 
mand. “Look at the doctor.” 



THE INHABITED 



63 



With that glance, the visitor 
told himself, he would flee the 
crazed mind and enter the doc- 
tor’s. There he would learn what 
the psychiatrist thought of his 
patient’s strange soliloquy — 
whether he believed it, or any 
part of it. 

He prayed that the doctor was 
evaluating it as the intricate rav- 
ing of delusion. 

S LOWLY, Mersey turned his 
head. Through his eyes, the 
visitor saw the faded green car- 
pet, the doctor’s dull -black shoes, 
his socks, the legs of his trousers. 
Mersey’s glance hovered there, 
around the doctor’s knees. The 
visitor forced it higher, past tyc 
belt around a tidy waist, along 
the buttons of the opened vest to 
the white collar, and finally to 
the kindly eyes behind gold- 
rimmed glasses. 

Again he had commanded this 
human being and had been 
obeyed. The traveler braced him- 
self for the leap from the tortured 
mind to the sane one. 

But his gaze continued to be 
that of Mersey. 

The gray eyes of the doctor 
were on his patient. Intelligence 
and kindness were in those eyes, 
but the visitor could read noth- 
ing else. 

He was caught, a prisoner in a 
demented mind. He felt panic. 
This must be the mind-screen 



he’d been warned about. 

“Look down,” the visitor com- 
manded Mersey. “Shut your eyes. 
Don’t let him see me.” 

But Mersey continued to be 
held by the doctor’s eyes. The 
visitor cowered back into tlie 
crazed mental tangle. 

Gradually, then, his fear ebbed. 
There was more likelihood that 
Cloyd did not believe Mersey’s 
words than that he did. The doc- 
tor treated hundreds of patients 
and surely many of them had 
delusions as fanciful as this one 
might seem. 

The traveler’s alarm simmered 
down until he was capable of ap- 
preciating the irony of the situ- 
ation. 

But at the same time, he 
thought with pain, “Is it our fate 
that of all the millions of crea- 
tures on this world, we can 
establish communication only 
through the insane? And even 
then to have only imperfect con- 
trol of the mind and, worse, to 
have it become a transmitter for 
our most secret thoughts?” 

It was heartbreaking. 

Dr. Cloyd broke the long si- 
lence. Pulling at his ear, he spoke 
calmly and matter-of-factly : 
“Let me see if I understand 
your problem, Mersey. You be- 
lieve yourself to be from another 
world, from which you have 
traveled, although not physically. 
Your world is not a material one, 



64 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



as far as its people are concerned. 
Your civilization is a mental one, 
which has been placed in danger. 
You must resettle your people, 
but this cannot be done here, on 
Earth, except in the minds of the 
mentally ill — and that would not 
be a satisfactory solution. Have 
I stated the case correctly?” 

“Yes,” Mersey’s voice said 
over the traveler’s mental pro- 
tests. “Except that it is not a 
‘case,’ as you call it. I am not 
Mersey. He is merely a vehicle 
for my thoughts. I am not here 
to be treated or cured, as the 
human being Mersey is. I’m here 
with a life-or-death problem af- 
fecting an entire race, and I 
would not be talking to you ex- 
cept that, at the moment, I’m 
trapped and confused.” 

npHE madman was doing it 
again, the traveler thought 
helplessly — spilling out his know- 
ledge, betraying him and "his kind. 
Was there no way to muffle him? 

“I must admit that I’m con- 
fused myself,” Dr. Cloyd said. 
“Humor me for a moment while 
I think out loud. Let me consider 
this in my own framework, first, 
and then in yours, without label- 
ing either one absolutely true or 
false. 

“You see,” the doctor went on, 
“this is a world of vitality. My 
world — Earth. Its people are 
strong. Their bodies are devel- 



oped as well as their minds. 
There are some who are not so 
strong, and some whose minds 
have been injured. But for the 
most part, both the mind and the 
body are in balance. Each has 
its function, and they work to- 
gether as a coordinated whole. 
My understanding of your world, 
on the other hand, is that it’s in 
a state of imbalance, where the 
physical has deteriorated almost 
to extinction and the mind has 
been nurtured in a hothouse at- 
mosphere. Where, you might say, 
the mind has fed on the decay of 
the body.” 

“No,” said Mersey, voicing the 
traveler’s conviction. “You paint 
a highly distorted picture of our 
world.” 

“I theorize, of course,” Dr. 
Cloyd agreed. “But it’s a valid 
theory, based on intimate know- 
ledge of my own world and what 
you’ve told me of yours.” 

“You make a basic error, I 
think,” Mersey said, speaking for 
the unwilling visitor. “You as- 
sume that I have been able to 
make contact only with this de- 
ranged mind. That is wrong. I 
have shared the experiences of 
many of you — a man, a boy, a 
woman about to bear a child. 
Even a cat. And with each of 
these, my mind has been per- 
fectly attuned. I was able to 
share and enjoy their experiences, 
their pleasures, to love with them 



THE 



NHABITED 



65 



and to fear, although they had 
no knowledge of my presence. 

“Only since I came to this poor 
mind have I failed to achieve true 
empathy. I have been shocked 
by his madness and I’ve tried to 
resist it, to help him overcome it. 
But I’ve failed and it apparently 
has imprisoned me. Whereas I 
was able to leave the minds of the 
others almost at will, with poor 
Mersey I’m trapped. I can’t 
transfer to you, for instance, as 
I could normally from another. 
If there’s a way out, I haven’t 
found it. Have you a theory for 
this?” 

In spite of his distress at these 
revelations, the traveler was in- 
trigued, now that they had been 
voiced for him, and he was eager 
to hear Dr. Cloyd’s interpretation 
of them. 

The psychiatrist took a pipe 
out of his pocket, filled it, lighted 
it and puffed slowly on it until 
it was drawing well. 

“Continuing to accept your 
postulate that you’re not Mersey, 
but an alien inhabiting his mind,” 
the doctor said finally, “I can 
enlarge on my theory without 
changing it in any basic way. 

“Your world is not superior to 
ours, much as it may please you 
to believe that it is. Nature con- 
sists of a balance, and that bal- 
ance must hold true whether in 
Sioux City, or Mars, or in the 
fourth dimension, or in your 



world, wherever that may be. 
Your world is out of balance. 
Evidently it has been going out 
of balance for some time. 

“Your salvation lies not in 
further evolution in your world — 
since your way of evolving 
proved wrong, and may prove 
fatal — but in a change in course, 
back along the evolutionary path 
to a society which developed 
naturally, with the mind and the 
body in balance. That society is 
the one you have found here, in 
our world. You found it pleasant 
and attractive, you say, but that 
doesn’t mean you’re suited to it. 

“Nature’s harsh rules may 
have operated to let you observe 
,a way of life here that you enjoy, 
but to exclude you otherwise — 
except from a mind that is not 
well. In nature’s balance, it could 
be that the refuge on this world 
most closely resembling your 
needs is in the mind of the psy- 
chotic. One conclusion could be 
that your race is mentally ill — 
by our standards, if not by yours 
— and that the type of person 
here most closely approximating 
your way of life is one with a 
disordered mind.” 

'TVR. Cloyd paused. Mersey had 
no immediate reply. 

The traveler made use of the 
silence to consider this plausible, 
but frightening theory. To ac- 
cept the theory would be to ac- 



THE INHABITED 



67 



cept a destiny of madness here 
on this world, although the doctor 
had been kind enough to draw a 
distinction between madness in 
one dimension and a mere lack 
of natural balance in another. 

Mersey again seized upon the 
traveler’s mind and spoke its 
thoughts. But as he spoke, he 
voiced a conclusion which the 
traveler had not yet admitted 
even to himself. 

“Then the answer is inescapa- 
ble,” Mersey said, his tone flat 
and unemotional. “It is theoreti- 
cally possible for all of our people 
to migrate to this world and find 
refuge of a sort. But if we estab- 
lished ourselves in the minds of 
your normal people, we’d be, 
without will. As mere observers, 
we’d become assimilated in time, 
and thus extinguished as a sep- 
arate race. That, of course, we 
could not permit. And if we 
settled in the minds most suitable 
to receive us, we would be in the 
minds of those who by your 
standards are insane — whose des- 
tiny is controlled by the others. 
Here again we could permit no 
such fate. 

“That alone would be enough 
to send me back to my people to 
report failure. But there is some- 
thing more — something I don’t 
think you will believe, for all your 
ability to synthesize acceptance 
of another viewpoint.” 

“And what is that?” 



“First I must ask a question. 
In speaking to me now, do you 
still believe yourself to be ad- 
dressing Mersey, your fellow 
human being, and humoring him 
in a delusion? Or do you think 
you are speaking through him to 
me, the inhabitant of another 
world who has borrowed his 
mind?” 

HPHE doctor smiled and took 
time to relight his pipe. 

“Let me answer you in this 
way,” he said. “If I were con- 
vinced that Mersey was merely 
harboring a delusion that he was 
inhabited by an alien being, I 
would accept that situation clini- 
cally. I would humor him, as 
you put it, in the hope that he’d 
be encouraged to talk freely and 
perhaps give me a clue to his 
delusion so I could help him lose 
it. I would speak to him — or to 
you, if that were his concept of 
himself — just as I am speaking 
now. 

“On the other hand, if I were 
convinced by the many unusual 
nuances of our conversation that 
the mind I was addressing actu- 
ally was that of an alien being — 
I would still talk to you as I am 
talking now.” 

The doctor smiled again. “I 
trust I have made my answer 
sufficiently unsatisfactory.” 

The visitor’s reaction was 
spoken by Mersey. “On the con- 



68 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



txary, you have unwittingly told 
me what I want to know. You’d 
want your answer to be satisfac- 
tory if you were speaking to 
Mersey, the lunatic. But because 
you’d take delight in disconcert- 
ing me by scoring a point — 
something you wouldn’t do with 
a patient — you reveal acceptance 
of the fact that I am not Mersey. 
Your rules would not permit you 
to give him an unsatisfactory 
answer.” 

“Not quite,” contradicted Dr. 
Cloyd, still smiling. “To Mersey, 
my patient, troubled by his de- 
lusion and using all his craft to 
persuade both of us of its reality, 
the unsatisfactory answer would 
be the satisfactory one.” 

M ERSEY’S voice laughed. 

“Dr. Cloyd, I salute you. I 
will leave your world with a tre- 
mendous respect for you — and 
completely unsure of whether you 
believe in my existence.” 

“Thank you.” 

“I am leaving, you know,” 
Mersey’s voice replied. 

The traveler by now was re- 
signed to letting the patient be 
his medium and speak his 
thoughts. Thus far, he had 
spoken them all truly, if some- 
what excessively. The traveler 
thought he knew why, now, and 
expected Mersey to voice the 
reason for him very shortly. He 
did. 



“I’m leaving because I must 
report failure and advise my 
people to look elsewhere for a 
new home. Part of the reason for 
that failure I haven’t yet men- 
tioned : 

“Although it might appear that 
I, the visitor, am manipulating 
Mersey to speak the thoughts I 
wished to communicate, the facts 
are almost the opposite. My con- 
trol over either Mersey’s body or 
mind is practically nil. 

“What you have been hearing 
and what you hear even now are 
the thoughts I am thinking — not 
necessarily the ones I want you 
to know. What has happened is 
this, if I may borrow your 
theory : 

“My mind has invaded Mer- 
sey’s, but his human vitality is 
too strong to permit him to be 
controlled by it. In fact, the 
reverse is true. His vitality is 
making use of my mind for its 
own good, and for the good of 
your human race. His own mind 
is damaged badly, but his healthy 
body has taken over and made 
use of my mind. It is using my 
mind to make it speak against its 
will — to speak the thoughts of an 
alien without subterfuge, as they 
actually exist in truth. Thus I 
am helplessly telling you all 
about myself and the intentions 
of my people. 

“What is in operation in Mer- 
sey is the human body’s instinct 



THE INHABITED 



69 



of self-preservation. It is utiliz- 
ing my mind to warn you against 
that very mind. Do you see? 
That would be the case, too, if a 
million of us invaded a million 
minds like Mersey’s. None of us 
could plot successfully against 
you, if that were our desire — 
which, of course, it is — because 
the babbling tongues we inherited 
along with the bodies would give 
us away.” 

The doctor no longer smiled. 
His expression was grave now. 

“I don’t know,” he said. ‘‘Now 
I am not sure any longer. I’m 
not certain that I follow you — or 
whether I want to follow you. I 
think I’m a bit frightened.” 

“You needn’t be. I’m going. 
I’ll say good-by, in your custom, 
and thank you for the hospitality 
and pleasures your world has 
given me. And I suppose I must 
thank Mersey for the warning of 
doom he’s unknowingly given my 
people, poor man. I hope you 
can help him.” 

“I’ll try,” said Dr. Cloyd, 
“though I must say you’ve com- 
plicated the diagnosis consider- 
ably.” 

“Good-by. I won’t be back, I 
promise you.” 

“I believe you,” said the doc- 
tor. “Good-by.” 

Mersey slumped back on the 
couch. He looked up at the ceil- 
ing, vacantly. 



'E'OR a long time there was no 
sound in the room. 

Then the doctor said: “Mer- 
sey.” 

There was no answer. The man 
continued to lie there motionless, 
breathing normally, looking at 
the ceiling. 

“Mersey,” said the doctor 
again. “How do you feel?” 

The man turned his head. He 
looked at the doctor with hos- 
tility, then went back to his con- 
templation of the ceiling. 

“Drop dead,” he muttered. 

—RICHARD WILSON 



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70 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




The Ice Age (II) 



N OT just “once upon a 
time,” but at least three 
times in the course of the 
last 600 million years, our planet 
experienced what is now called 
an Ice Age. a period of glaciers 
in areas normally free of them. 



The first of these three glacia- 
tions, only very incompletely and 
sketchily known to us. took place 
in the earliest days of the old, 
old Cambrian Period. More like- 
ly it was at a time which we 
would call “pre-Cambrian,” if 




FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



71 



there were a hard and fast rule 
for placing the dividing line, and 
if we could date such distant 
events with any precision. 

The next glaciation, of which 
we know much more, took place 
400 million years later, during 
the Permian Period. 

This period followed the days 
of the endless — both in expanse 
and in duration — swampy forests 
of the Carboniferous Period 
which produced most of our coal 
beds. The Permian glaciation 
was followed, however, by the 
three periods which are often 
lumped together under the term 
“The Age of Reptiles” — the Tri- 
assic, Jurassic and Cretaceous 
Periods — all in all, about 135 
million years long and decidedly 
warm. The “Age of Mammals” 
or Tertiary Period — the name is 
a hangover from the early days 
of geology which assumed a total 
of four geological periods, of 
which this was the third — was of 
a total duration of 60 million 
years and also obviously warm 
in character. 

And then, after a good round 
200 million years of warm clim- 
ate, there came the recent Ice 
Age which ended only a few 
thousand years before the very 
oldest records of human history. 

T HE great question, asked ever 
since even a few of the facts 
just recited became known, was 



"what caused it?” A set of an- 
swers which dominated thinking 
for quite some time was based 
on the simple reasoning that the 
Earth gets its heat from the Sun. 
Hence, if we did not get enough 
heat at one time, the Sun must 
have weakened temporarily, or 
else we, for reasons unknown, 
had been traveling in a different 
orbit. 

In short, either the stove had 
not worked right or else we had 
been farther away from it. 

Last month I gave a survey 
of these ideas and why they had 
failed to work out, sticking close- 
ly to the set of theories which 
had astronomical events in mind. 
Doing that, I had to disregard 
chronological order, else it would 
have been a confused story in- 
deed. 

Now for the set of theories 
which stayed on Earth. Just as 
there had been a simple-minded 
idea in the astronomical field (the 
Sun is burning out) there was an 
equally simple-minded thought 
in the geological department. 
After all, it was not only the Sun 
which was gradually cooling. The 
Earth was, too. 

Once, the then current theory 
ran, the Earth had been a ball 
of hot gas and molten rock, a 
miniature sun. And although, be- 
cause of its much smaller size, 
the Earth had formed a solid 
cool crust early in its career, it 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



♦ 



72 



had remained a miniature sun 
under that crust for a long time. 
In the days of the geological 
periods which were past, the 
crust did not only receive radiant 
heating from the ceiling, it was 
also supplied with heat from un- 
derneath. As that floor heating 
diminished, the crust grew cooler, 
for the Sun alone was not enough 
to produce the all-over tropical 
climate of the past. 

The argument broke down as 
soon as that older glaciation of 
the Permian Period was discov- 
ered and confirmed. To make it 
completely absurd, somebody 
made a little calculation. Sup- 
posing that the heat from under- 
neath was to provide as many 
calories to the surface as the Sun 
did, how soon would it become 
how hot if you dug down? The 
answer was that there would have 
to be almost red heat 35 feet 
below sea level — far from im- 
proving in growth, the roots of 
any large tree would be badly 
scorched. 

OUBTERRANEAN heat was 
^ no answer. But, one might 
ask, granted that North America 
had had its Ice Age at the same 
time as northern Europe, and 
granted also that traces of an 
Ice Age had been found in the 
southern hemisphere, how could 
we be sure the Ice Age in the 
southern hemisphere had coin- 



cided with that of the northern 
hemisphere? 

It was this thought which in- 
trigued Monsieur Alphonse Jos- 
eph Adh&nar, in everyday life 
a professor of mathematics, and 
which led to one of the wildest 
hypotheses ever to be thrown at 
a usually patient public. 

But we have to recall a few 
elementary facts first. As every- 
body has learned at some time 
or another, the Earth’s axis is 
tilted to the plane of the Earth’s 
orbit, and the orbit itself is not a 
precise circle but merely a near- 
circular ellipse. At the present 
time, the Earth is farthest from 
the Sun when the northern hemi- 
sphere has summer. The slightly 
longer distance matters little; 
the important thing is that the 
tilt of the axis favors the north 
at that time of the year. 

In the south, things are re- 
versed; the South Pole has sum- 
mer when the Earth is closest to 
the Sun. That, however, also 
means that the Earth is moving 
a little faster. Therefore the 
South Polar summer, while po- 
tentially somewhat warmer, is 
slightly shorter; the north has 
slightly cooler but longer sum- 
mers. Conversely, the south has 
a colder and longer winter. 

Then there is the phenomenon 
of the procession of the equinoxes 
— we can’t go into detail here — 
which has the result that, in 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



73 



twenty-odd-thousand-year inter- 
vals, the other pole attains the 
favored position of the somewhat 
longer summers. 

Adhemar advanced the idea 
that the Ice Age was simply the 
time when the North Pole was 
in the position which now applies 
to South Pole. During those reg- 
ularly repeating cycles when the 
tilt of the axis pointed the north- 
ern hemisphere toward the Sun, 
while the Earth was closest, the 
north had long and cold winters. 
Though the summers were hot- 
ter, they were too short to melt 
the ice which had accumulated. 
And the more the ice accumu- 
lated, winter after winter, the 
weaker the effect of the summer 
on that accumulation. 

So far, this was, for the factual 
knowledge then available, a 
theory that could be seriously 
considered. But Adhemar did not 
stop there. As the ice accumu- 
lated around the unfavored pole, 
its weight shifted the center of 
gravity of the planet. This would 
cause the waters of the surface 
to assemble near the cold pole. 
Look at the map — the high north 
is largely land, but the massive 
ice of the south is surrounded by 
thousands of miles of sea water. 
Then, as the severity of the cold 
season slowly shifts from one 
pole to the other, the formerly 
ice pole melts clear. One summer 
the last ice floe disappears down 



there . . . and suddenly the cen- 
ter of gravity of the planet shifts 
and the waters hurry in an in- 
• describable flood to the other 
pole. 

During the last shift of the 
waters to the north, the mam- 
moths were carried from their 
tropical homeland into, the ice of 
Siberia, where they managed to 
live for one season — Adhemar 
could not know just how well the 
mammoths were adapted to a 
cold climate in every detail of 
their physiology — and the last 
water shift to the south was prob- 
ably the Flood of the Bible. The 
next shift, Adhemar predicted in 
1842, would take place 6300 years 
hence. 

TJF7HILE Adhemar erred on 
™ every count, he had intro- 
duced an idea which many a geol- 
ogist tried to utilize later on : the 
notion that what looks like an ice 
age may just have been normal 
polar winter. But the poles may 
have been where they are not 
now. 

About 1883, the Urania Ob- 
servatory in Berlin had reported 
after considerable hesitation that 
its own latitude seemed to' shift 
a bit. The amount was unim- 
portant and hardly detectable. 
But the fact itself seemed — they 
said “seemed” — correct. The ob- 
servatory of Pulkova in Russia 
was the first to corroborate the 



74 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



strange news. Prague followed 
suit. Just to make sure, an as- 
tronomer, Dr. Markuse, was 
shipped halfway around the 
world to the Sandwich Islands 
to make measurements from an 
antipodal point. 

It was true. The North Pole — 
and. of course, the South Pole, 
too — moves a little, some 70 feet 
away from its theoretical loca- 
tion. It is not a straight-line 
movement, but a kind of shiver- 
ing — and no jokes about the low 
temperature, please. 

Well, if the poles move a little 
now, they might have moved 
much more in the past. Look at 
a map again, a world map this 
time, or better still, a globe. Sup- 
posing that at one time the whole 
Earth had been turned in such a 
way that the North Pole had 
occupied the southern tip of 
Greenland. That would obvious- 
ly have meant an Ice Age for 
both North America and Europe. 
Supposing that in the preceding 
geological period, the North 
Pole had been located under 
what we now call 60 degrees lati- 
tude in northeastern Asia. At that 
time the equator would have run 
through Texas and Louisiana on 
this side of the Atlantic Ocean, 
and through Spain and Greece on 
the other side. 

It would certainly have been 
tropical in North America and 
Europe then. 



' I '’HIS simple example which 

just shifts the pole along the 
40th meridian does not work out 
in reality. For Ireland, England 
and North Germany, and, of 
course, Scandinavia, were cov- 
ered by glaciers, while France and 
Spain were not. 

But this was the general idea, 
set forth, for the first time to my 
knowledge, in the Annual Report 
for the Year 1901 of the Society 
for Geography in Dresden. The 
author of this particular paper 
was an engineer by the name of 
Paul Reibisch. 

It seemed to Reibisch that the 
whole Earth performed a very 
slow pendulum movement, swing- 
ing in the course of geological 
periods north and south, bring- 
ing different continents into the 
tropics and under the poles. If 
you want to visualize what he 
meant, take a globe and hold it 
between two fingertips which are 
placed on Sumatra and Ecuador. 
Turn the globe back and forth. 
Now, if you can imagine that the 
ice cap of the pole slithers back 
and forth over the continents and 
seas, you know the gist of Rei- 
bisch’s theory. 

Reibisch followed up his origi- 
nal paper with two more publi- 
cations in 1905 and 1907 and, in 
the latter year, another book ap- 
peared which enthusiastically 
supported Reibisch. Its author 
was Dr. Heinrich Simroth, pro- 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



75 



fessor of zoology at the Univer- 
sity of Leipzig. 

Prof. Simroth had tried to co- 
ordinate Reibisch’s geological 
ideas with his own knowledge of 
zoology, specifically the distri- 
bution of the animals over the 
globe, and had satisfied himself 
that everything worked out won- 
derfully. 

Simroth did something else. 
Reibisch had introduced that 
pendulum movement as a fact; 
Simroth tried to find the reason 
for it. His solution: a second 
moon of Earth had struck sev- 
eral hundred million years before 
the first glaciation in pre-Cam- 
brian days. This shock had 
caused the first movement, and 
ever since then, the magnetic field 
of the Sun, acting upon the mag- 
netic field of the Earth, had tried 
to dampen the pendulum move- 
ment, until only the slight shiver- 
ing of the poles is left now. 

Very ingenious, but it has 
nothing to do with reality. Even 
forgetting Simroth’s “elabora- 
tions,” Reibisch’s pendulum just 
does not work out. For one thing, 
while the European glaciation 
would fall between the Tertiary 
Period and the present, the North 
American glaciation would fall 
into the Tertiary. Geologists were 
quite sure even in 1907 that they 
were simultaneous. Now, thanks 
to the carbon- 14 method, we 
know they were. 



T>UT there was one more 
thought. Possibly it was not 
the Earth as a whole which made 
weird movements, but only the 
Earth’s crust or portions of the 
crust, floating upon the heavier 
magma of the next deeper layer. 
When you voice this thought 
now, everybody will think at once 
of Prof. Alfred Wegener’s theory 
of the floating continents, an in- 
triguing idea about which one 
may say that it almost explains 
things. But not quite; there are 
lots of difficulties left. Dr. Wege- 
ner, however, was not the first 
to make the crust of the Earth 
wander about the planet. 

The first, in 1886, had been a 
learned and careful outsider, 
Karl Count Loffelholz von Col- 
berg, who offered this thought as 
a possibility. The next one to 
make this suggestion was (strange 
coincidence of names) Father 
Kolberg, S. J., and the third was 
Father Damian Kreichgauer, 
S.V.D., who some fifty years ago 
published his Die Aequatorirage 
in der Geologie which may be 
translated as “The Position of 
the Equator in Geological His- 
tory.” Father Kreichgauer was 
interested in the equator as the 
title shows, but if you move the 
equator, you move the poles, too. 

Interestingly enough, Father 
Kreichgauer — who wrote before 
Reibisch published his works, 
even though the publication date 



76 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



is a little later — also assumes that 
northern South America and the 
East Indies shifted little, if at 
all. Otherwise the equator is as- 
sumed to have almost “flopped 
over” in the course of geological 
history. 

Since Father Kreichgauer’s 
continents can wander off 
obliquely, if needed, things work 
out far better than with Rei- 
bisch’s rigid system. But even so 
the glaciations of East and West 
cannot be made to coincide. In 
reality, they did. 

A LL these ideas were not real- 
ly explanations, They were 
attempts to explain the Ice Ages 
away, to show that unknown fac- 
tors led to systematic mistakes 
in interpretation of the evidence. 
But since they all failed, the old 
assumption that the whole Earth 
was temporarily cooler is still the 
simplest and most logical. Nor 
did it have to be very much 
cooler. Melchior Neumayr of 
Vienna showed that a general 
reduction of the average tempera- 
ture by just 6 to 8 degrees Fahr- 
enheit is sufficient. 

If every noon and every mid- 
night is 6 to 8 degrees F. cooler 
than now for a number of cen- 
turies, we’ll get the most beau- 
tiful glaciation, both in the north 
and in the south, both east and 
west — and no nonsense about 
shifting centers of gravity and 



second moons hitting us below 
the equator. 

One rather obvious thought 
centers upon the enormous cos- 
mic dust clouds we see in inter- 
stellar space. If our sun with its 
planetary system wandered into 
such a cloud, the dust would 
absorb some of the solar radia- 
tion and Earth would receive 
less heat. It is really surprising 
that it took so long until some- 
body actually said so, yet the 
idea did not reach print until 
about 30 years ago with a paper 
by the astronomer Prof. Nolke. 

It seems simple, but the diffi- 
culties are enormous. 

The cosmic dust would absorb 
solar radiation, all right. It would 
also reflect radiation which would 
normally miss the Earth. The 
final result might well be an 
increase of radiation reaching us! 
(In fact, the British Col. De- 
launey, writing at about the same 
time as Nolke, took this posi- 
tion.) More important, the dust 
would fuel the Sun, increasing the 
output of heat. 

It is conceivable that you 
might wiggle through by assum- 
ing a density of dust in space of 
.just the right amount to act as a 
shield without increasing the 
Sun’s output more than the 
shielding. But since the last gla- 
ciers vanished only 10,000 years 
ago, it would be a reasonable 
demand to have the cosmic cloud 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



77 



which caused the Ice Age 
pointed out in the sky. 

More than thirty years ago, 
the geologist Geinitz, who could 
be considered the foremost 
authority on all the theories re- 
lating to the Ice Age, wrote in 
the introduction to a heavy vol- 
ume on this subject: “The causes 
of the Ice Age are unknown.” 
Unfortunately, he could use the 
same sentence if he wrote now. 

But there is one more theory 
which I’ll save for the next 
month. It cannot be proved, but 
it might be true in principle. 

MORE “PI” 

T HE item on “pi” brought in a 
surprisingly large number of 
letters, among them six from cor- 
respondents who could not figure 
out just how a sentence about 
alcoholic drinks and quantum 
mechanics was supposed to help 
them remember the value of “pi” 
to 14 decimal places. I also re- 
ceived one letter (from Peter J. 
Sutro of Oklahoma City) in 
which he predicted that some 
readers would ask that question. 
I had to admit to Mr. Sutro that 
this was my fault. 

The clue is, of course, the num- 
ber of letters in every word. I 
had taken it for granted that the 
readers would catch on, if not 
at once, at least after about five 
minutes had gone by. Now I 



assume that everybody but those 
six readers did, which isn’t at all 
bad. 

An informative letter about 
“pi” came from Dr. James 
Stokley of General Electric’s Re- 
search Laboratory. First of all, 
Dr. Stokley confirmed that the 
mnemonic I quoted was actually 
coined by Sir James Jeans; it 
appeared originally in a letter to 
Nature 25 years ago over the ini- 
tials J.H.J., which were those of 
Sir James. 

Dr. Stokley also informed me 
that the value of “pi” is now 
known to 2040 places. Only thir- 
ty years ago, that would have 
been the lifetime work of a 
mathematician, but times have 
changed. The calculation was 
accomplished by a group of re- 
searchers at the Aberdeen Prov- 
ing Ground under W. Barkley 
Fritz. Working on their own time 
over the Fourth of July weekend 
in 1949, and using the ENIAC 
computer, they not only derived 
the value of “pi” for many more 
places than ever before, but also 
calculated the value of “e” to 
2556 places. Anybody who wants 
to know more about this, please 
consult vol. 4, p. 11 (June 1950) 
of the Mathematical Tables and 
Aids to Computation, published 
by the National Research Coun- 
cil. 

Several correspondents — first 
one in was William Vickrey of 



78 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



552 Riverside Drive, NYC — sent 
me another mnemonic for “pi” 
which is good for 30 places and 
reads : 

Now I, even I, would celebrate 
In rhymes inapt, the great 
Immortal Syracusan, rivaled nevermore 
Who, in his wondrous lore, 

Passed on before, 

Left men his guidance 
How to circles mensurate. 

My personal feeling about this 
poem is that it would be easier 
to memorize “pi” to 30 places 
directly. Acting under the con- 
viction that one bad poem de- 
serves another, I replied with the 
French version which reads: 

Quc j’aime a faire apprendre un nom- 
brc utile aux sages! 

Immortel Archimede, artiste ing€nieur, 
Qui de ton jugement peut priser la 
valeur? 

Pour moi, ton probleme eut de pareils 
avantages. 

For good measure, I added a 
German version, constructed in 
1878 by the mathematician Wein- 
meister : 

Wie o! dies n , 

Macht emstlich so vielen viele Miih’, 
Lernt immerhin, Junglinge, leichte 
Verselein, 

Wie so zum Beispel dies diirfte zu 
merken sein. 

When I thought it was all 
over, I received a stem-sounding 
postcard from Bill Powers of 111 



E. Oak Street in Chicago, 111., 
reading: “I wish I could recap- 
ture my memory about Sir Jeans’ 
diabolic mnemonics! However, 
invention now of any reliable, 
easy phrase is beyond 'what shy 
and fumbling aid my present in- 
tellect gives.” 

Admittedly very fine and clever 
and certainly worth publication. 
But I have yet to find a case 
where 3.1416 wasn’t good enough. 

—WILLY LEY 

ANY QUESTIONS? 

Space, we are told, is swarm- 
ing with meteors. What is their 
origin? 

Robert B. Godwin 

2539 Lyndale Ave. So. 

Minneapolis 5, Minn. 

Astronomers are pretty much 
convinced by now that the over- 
whelming majority of all the 
meteorites which we encounter 
have their origin in the Aster- 
oid Belt between Mars and 
Jupiter. 

They are believed to origi- 
nate from collisions, most of 
them glancing blows, between 
the smaller asteroids. Since 
such glancing blows must also 
impart velocity components to 
the fragments which are quite 
different from the orbits of the 
two asteroids that collided, the 
fragments must assume entirely 
different orbits. In a large num- 



FOR YOUR INFORMATION 



79 



her of cases, these new orbits 
will lead out of the Belt. 

If this reasoning is correct, 
meteorities should be exceed- 
ingly rare beyond Jupiter. 

In science fiction it is accepted 
as a fact that hard radiation 
causes mutations. If this is true, 
why have there been no known 
cases of mutation from the Hiro- 
shima bomb? 

Could it be that the radiation 
caused sterility instead? 

Tony Stieber 
6520 West 83rd St. 

Los Angeles 45, Calif. 

It is a fact that hard radia- 
tion causes mutations and this 
has been proved in the labora- 
tory with fast-hreeding fruit 
flies ( Drosophila melanogas- 
ler). But it is also true that 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki did 
not produce a flood of human 
mutants. 

There are two guesses in ad- 
dition to your own: 

One is that the resistance to 
mutation-causing radiation is 
much higher in mammals than 
it is in insects. 

The other is that the muta- 
tions were so extreme that 
they could not have lived and 
thus they were miscarried. 

When we send manned rockets 
out, first to the Moon and then 
to Mars and Venus, we have to 



include fuel for the return trip. 
It might take us years longer to 
develop a round-trip fuel and 
rocket than a one-way fuel and 
round -trip rocket. I would like 
to know the chances of finding 
fuels on the Moon, Mars and 
Venus, respectively. 

David Shear 
409 Battery Lane 
Bethesda 14, Md. 

It is highly unlikely that we 
would find substances which 
are raw materials for fuels on 
the Moon. I can’t say that about 
Venus because its surface con- 
ditions are still unknown. 

Mars has water and sunlight. 
By means of solar mirrors op- 
erating turbo-generators, we 
could break the water down in- 
to hydrogen and oxygen and 
liquefy these two gases. They 
would be a usable fuel combi- 
nation. Or else we could only 
keep the oxygen in its pure 
form and convert the hydro- 
gen, utilizing atmospheric ni- 
trogen, into hydrazine. Hydra- 
zine has many advantages of 
pure hydrogen, all of them fall- 
ing under the heading of ease 
in handling. 

But such processing, which 
amounts to a storing of solar 
energy, is quite complicated. 
When the time comes, we’ll 
probably calculate twice wheth- 
er it wouldn’t be simpler to 
carry along the return fuel. 



BO 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



PROTT 

By MARGARET ST. CLAIR 



The Kinsey of space was what 



he considered himself . . . and 



his was not a sterile labor! 



Illustrated by JOHN FAY 



“R 



| EAD IT," said the 
spaceman. “ You'll 
, find it interesting — 
under the circumstances. It’s nof 
long. One of the salvage crews 
found it tied to a signal rocket 
just outside the Asteroid Belt. 
It'd been there quite a while. 

*7 thought of taking it to some- 
body at the university, a historian 
or somebody, but I don't suppose 
they'd be interested. They don't 
have any more free time than 
anybody else." 

He handed a metal cylinder to 



Fox, across the table, and ordered 
drinks for them both. Fox sipped 
from his glass before he opened 
the tube. 

" Sure you want me to read it 
now?" he asked. “Not much of a 
way to spend our free time." 

“Sure, go ahead and read it. 
What difference does it make?" 

So Fox spread out the emtex 
sheets. He began to read. 

jT\ATING a diary in deep space 
offers special problems. Phil- 
osophic problems, I mean — that 



PROTT 



• 1 



immense “When is now?” which, 
vexatious enough within a solar 
system or even on the surface of 
a planet, becomes quite insoluble 
in deep except empirically or by 
predicating a sort of super-time, 
an enormous Present Moment 
which would extend over every- 
thing. And yet a diary entry must 
be dated, if only for convenience. 
So I will call today Tuesday and 
take the date of April 21 from 
the gauges. 

Tuesday it is. 

On this Tuesday, then, I am 
quite well and cheerful, snug 
and comfortable, in the Ellis. The 
Ellis is a model of comfort and 
convenience; a man who couldn’t 
be comfortable in it couldn’t be 
comfortable anywhere. As to 
where I am, I could get the pre- 
cise data from the calculators, but 
I think, for the casual purposes 
of this record, it’s enough to say 
that I am almost at the edges of 
the area where the prott are said 
to abound. And my speed is al- 
most exactly that at which they 
are supposed to appear. 

I said I was well and cheerful. 
I am. But just under my eu- 
phoria, just at the edge of con- 
sciousness, I am aware of an 
intense loneliness. It’s a normal 
response to the deep space situ- 
ation, I think. And I am upborne 
by the feeling that I stand on 
the threshold of unique scientific 
discoveries. 



T hursday the 26th (my 
days are more than twenty- 
four hours long). Today my 
loneliness is definitely conscious. 

I am troubled, too, by the fear 
that perhaps the prott won’t — 
aren’t going to — put in an appear- 
ance. After all, their existence is 
none too well confirmed. And 
then what becomes of all my 
plans, of my smug confidence of 
a niche for myself in the hall of 
fame of good investigators? 

It seemed like a brilliant idea 
when I was on Earth. I know the 
bursar thought so, too, when I 
asked for funds for the project. 
To investigate the life habits of 
a non -protoplasmic form of life, 
with special emphasis on its re- 
production — excellent! But now? 

Saturday, April 30. Still no 
prott. But I am feeling better. I 
went over my files on them and 
again it seems to me that there 
is only one conclusion possible: 
They exist. 

Over an enormous sector in the 
depth of space, during many 
years, they have been sighted. 
For my own comfort, let’s list 
the known facts about prott. 

First, they are a non-protoplas- 
mic form of life. (How could they 
be otherwise, in this lightless, 
heatless gulf?) Second, their bod- 
ily organization is probably elec- 
trical. Simmons, who was electri- 
cal engineer on the Thor, found 



82 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



that his batteries showed dis- 
charges when prott were around. 
Third, they appear only to ships 
which are in motion between cer- 
tain rates of speed. (Whether mo- 
tion at certain speeds attracts 
them, or whether it is only at cer- 
tain frequencies that they are 
visible, we don’t know.) Fourth, 
whether or not they are intelli- 
gent, they are to some extent 
telepathic, according to the re- 
ports. This fact, of course, is my 
hope of communicating with 
them at all. And fifth, prott have 
been evocatively if unscientifical- 
ly described as looking like big 
poached eggs. 

On the basis of these facts, I’ve 
aspired to be the Columbus — or, 
more accurately, the Dr. Kinsey 
— of the prott. Well, it’s good to 
know that, lonely and rather wor- 
ried as I am, I can still laugh at 
my own jokes. 

May 3rd. I saw my first prott. 
More later. It’s enough for now: 

I saw my first prott. 

May 4th. The Ellis has all- 
angle viewing plates, through 360 
degrees. I had set up an auto- 
matic signal, ' and yesterday it 
rang. My heart thumping with an 
almost painful excitement, I ran 
to the battery of plates. 

There it was, seemingly some 
five yards long, a cloudy, whitish 
thing. There was a hint of a large 



yellow nucleus. Damned if the 
thing didn't look like a big 
poached egg! 

I saw at once why everyone 
has assumed that prott are life- 
forms and not, for example, mi- 
nute spaceships, robots, or 
machines of some sort. The thing 
had the irregular, illogical sym- 
metry of life. 

I stood goggling at it. It wasn’t 
alarming, even in its enormous 
context. After a moment, it 
seemed to flirt away from the 
ship with the watery ease of a 
fish. 

I waited hopefully, but it didn’t 
come back. 

lyt'AY 4. No prott. Question: 
since there is so little light 
in deep space, how was I able to 
see it? It wasn’t luminous. 

I wish I had had more train- 
ing in electronics and allied sub- 
jects. But the bursar thought it 
more important to send out a 
man trained in survey techniques. 

May 5. No prott. 

May 6. No prott. But I have 
been having very odd thoughts. 

May 8th. As I half-implied in 
my last entry, the ideas I have 
been having (such odd ideas — 
they made me feel, mentally, as 
if some supporting membrane of 
my personality were being over- 



P R O TT 



83 



strained) were an indication of 
the proximity of prott. 

I had just finished eating lunch 
today when the automatic signal 
rang. I hurried to the viewers. 
There, perfectly clear against 
their jet-black background, were 
three prott. Two were almost 
identical; one was slightly smaller 
in size. I had retraced over and 
over in my mind the glimpse of 
the one prott I had had before, 
but now that three of them were 
actually present in the viewers, I 
could only stare at them. They’re 
not alarming, but they do have 
an odd effect upon the mind. 

After several tense seconds, I 
recovered my wits. I pressed a 
button to set the automatic pho- 
tographic records going. I’d put 
in plates to cover the whole spec- 
trum of radiant energy, and it 
will be interesting when I go to 
develop my pictures to see what 
frequencies catch the prott best. 
I also — this was more difficult — 
began to send out the basic 
“Who? Who? Who?’’ in which 
all telepathiq communicators are 
trained. 

I have become reasonably good 
at telepathy through practice, but 
I have no natural talent for it. I 
remember Mcllwrath telling me 
jokingly, just before I left New 
York, that I’d never have trou- 
ble with one of the pitfalls of 
natural telepaths — transmitting a 
desired answer into the mind of 



a subject by telepathy. I suppose 
any deficiency has some advan- 
tageous side. 

I began, to send out my basic 
“Who?” It may have been only 
a coincidence, but as soon as the 
fourth or fifth impulse had left 
my mind, all three prott slid out 
of the viewing plates. They didn’t 
come back. It would seem that 
my attempts at communication 
alarmed them. I hope not, 
though. 

When I was convinced that 
they would not return for a while, 
I began to develop my plates. 
Those in the range of visible 
light show the prott very much 
as they appear to the eye. The 
infra-red plates show nothing at 
all. But the ultra-violet-sensitive 
ones are really interesting. 

Two of the prott appear as a 
network of luminous lines intri- 
cately knotted and braided. For 
some reason, I was reminded of 
the “elfish light” of Coleridge’s 
water snakes, which "moved in 
tracks of shining white.” The 
third prott, which I assume to 
have been the smaller one, gave 
an opaque, flattened-ovoid im- 
age, definitely smaller than that 
of its companions, with a round 
dark shadow in the center. This 
shadow would appear to be the 
large yellow nucleus. 

Question; Do these photogra- 
phic differences correspond to 
organizational differences? Prob- 



84 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



ably, though it might be a mat- 
ter of phase. 

Further question: If the dif- 
ference is in fact organizational, 
do we have here an instance of 
that specialization which, among 
protoplasmic creatures, would 
correspond to sex? It is possible. 
But such theorizing is bound to 
be plain guesswork. 

May 9th (I see I gave up dat- 
ing by days some while ago.). 
No prott. I think it would be of 
some interest if, at this point, I 
were to try to put down my im- 
pression of those “odd thoughts” 
which I believe the prott inspired 
in me. 

In the first place, there is a re- 
luctance. I didn’t want to think 
what I was thinking. This is not 
because the ideas were in them- 
selves repellent or disgusting, but 
because they were uncongenial to 
my mind. I don’t mean uncon- 
genial to my personality or my 
idiosyncrasies, to the sum of dif- 
ferences that make up “me,” but 
uncongenial to the whole biologi- 
cal orientation of my thinking. 
The differences between proto- 
plasmic and non-protoplasmic 
life must be enormous. 

In the second place, there is a 
frustration. I said, “I didn’t want 
to think what I was thinking,” 
but it would be equally true to 
say that I couldn't think it. 
Hence, I suppose, that sensation 



of ineffectuality. 

And in the third place, there is 
a great boredom. Frustration 
often does make one feel bored, 

I suppose. I couldn’t apprehend 
my own thoughts. But whenever 
I finally did, I found them 
boring. They were so remote, so 
incomprehensible, that they were 
uninteresting. 

But the thoughts themselves? 
What were they? I can’t say. 

How confused all this is! Well, 
nothing is more tiresome than to 
describe the indescribable. 

Perhaps it is true that the only 
creature that could understand 
the thoughts of a prott would be 
another prott. 

M AY 10th. Were the “odd 
thoughts” the results of at- 
tempts on the protts’ part to 
communicate with me? I don’t 
think so. I believe they were 
near the ship, but out of “view- 
shot,” so to speak, and I picked 
up some of their interpersonal 
communications accidentally. 

I have been devoting a good 
deal of thought to the problem 
of communicating with them. It 
is too bad that there is no way 
of projecting a visual image of 
myself onto the exterior of the 
ship. I have Matheson’s signaling 
devices, and next time — if there 
is a next — I shall certainly try 
them. I have little confidence in 
devices, however. I feel intui- 



PROTT 



85 



tively that it is going to have to 
be telepathy or nothing. But if 
they respond to the basic “who?” 
with flight . . . well, I must think 
of something else. 

Suppose I were to begin the 
attempt at contact wittf*a “split- 
question.” “Splits” are hard for 
any telepath, almost impossible 
for me. But in just that difficulty, 
my hope of success might lie. 
After all, I suppose the prott 
flirted away from the ship at my 
“who?” because mental contact 
with me was painful to them. 

Later. Four of them are here 
now. I tried a split and they went 
away, but came back. I am go- 
ing to try something else. 

May 11th. It worked. My 
“three-way split” — something I 
had only read about in journals, 
but that I would never have be- 
lieved myself capable of — was as- 
toundingly effective. 

Not at first, though. At my first 
attempt, the prott darted right 
out of the viewers. I had a mo- 
ment of despair. Then, with an 
almost human effect of hesita- 
tion, reluctance, and inclination, 
they came back. They clustered 
around the viewer. Once more I 
sent out my impulse; sweat was 
running down my back with the 
effort. And they stayed. 

I don’t know what I should 
have done if they hadn’t. A split 



is exhausting because, in addi- 
tion to the three normal axes of 
the mind, it involves a fourth 
one, at right angles to all the oth- 
ers. A telepath would know what 
I mean. But a three-way split 
is, in the old-fashioned phrase, 
“lifting yourself up by your 
bootstraps.” Some experts say it’s 
impossible. I still have trouble 
believing I brought it off. 

I did, however. There was a 
sudden rush, a gush, of commu- 
nication. I’d like to try to get it 
down now, while it’s still fresh in 
my mind. But I’m too tired. Even 
the effort of using the playback 
is almost beyond me. I’ve got to 
rest. 

L ATER. I’ve been asleep for 
four hours. I don’t think I 
ever slept so soundly. Now I’m 
almost myself again, except that 
my hands shake. 

I said I wanted to get the com- 
munication with the prott down 
while it was still fresh. Already 
it has begun to seem a little re- 
mote, I suppose because the sub- 
ject matter was inherently alien. 
But the primary impression I re- 
tain of it is the gush, the sudden- 
ness. It was like pulling the cork 
out of a bottle of warm cham- 
pagne which has been thoroughly 
shaken up. 

In the middle, I had to try to 
maintain my mental balance in 
the flood. It was difficult; no won- 



86 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



der the effort left me so tired. But 
I did learn basic things. 

One: identity. The prott are 
individuals, and though their des- 
ignations for themselves escape 
me, they have individual con- 
sciousness. This is not a small 
matter. Some protoplasmic life- 
forms have only group conscious- 
ness. Each of the four prott in 
my viewer was thoroughly aware 
of itself as distinct from the 
others. 

Two: difference. The prott 

were not only aware of identity, 
they were aware of differences of 
class between themselves. And I 
am of the opinion that these dif- 
ferences correspond to those 
shown on my photographic 
plates. 

Three: place. The prott are 
quite clearly conscious that they 
are here and not somewhere else. 
This may seem either trivial or 
so basic as not to be worth both- 
ering with. But there are whole 
groups of protoplasmic life-forms 
on Venus whose only cognizance 
of place is a distinction between 
“me” and “not-me.” 

Four: time. For the prott, time 
is as it is for us, an irrever- 
sible flowing in one direction only. 
I caught in their thinking a hint 
of a discrimination between bio- 
logical (for such a life-form? 
That is what it seemed) time and 
something else, I am . not sure 
what. 



Beyond these four basic things, 
I am unsure. I do feel, though it 
is perhaps overoptimistic of me, 
that further communication, com- 
munication of great interest, is 
possible. I feel that I may be 
able to discover what their opti- 
mum life conditions and habitat 
are. I do not despair of discover- 
ing how they reproduce them- 
selves. 

I have the feeling that there is 
something they want very much 
to tell me. 

jl/JAY 13th. Six prott today. 

According to my photo- 
graphic record, only one of them 
was of the opaque solid-nucleus 
kind. The others all showed the 
luminous light-tracked mesh. 

The communication was diffi- 
cult. It is exhausting to me physi- 
cally. I had again that sense of 
psychic pressure, of urgency, in 
their sendings. If I only knew 
what they wanted to “talk” 
about, it would be so much easier 
for me. 

I have the impression that they 
have a psychic itch they want me 
to help them scratch. That’s silly? 
Yes, I know, yet that is the odd 
impression I have. 

After they were gone, I ana- 
lyzed my photographs carefully. 
The knotted light meshes are not 
identical in individuals. If the 
patterns are constant for individ- 
uals, it would seem that two of 



PROTT 



87 



the light-mesh kind have been 
here before. 

What do they want to talk 
about? 

May 14th. Today the prott — 
seven of them — and I communi- 
cated about habitat. This much 
is fairly certain. It would appear 
— and I think that from now on 
any statement I make about them 
is going to have to be heavily 
qualified — it would appear that 
they are not necessarily confined 
to the lightless, heatless depths 
of space. I can’t be sure about 
this. But I thought I got the hint 
of something “solid” in their 
thinking. 

Wild speculation: do they get 
their energy from stars? 

Behind their sendings, I got 
again the hint of some other more 
desired communication. Some- 
thing which at once attracts and 
— repels? frightens? embarrasses? 

Sometimes the humor of my 
situation comes to me suddenly. 
An embarrassed prott ! But I sup- 
pose there’s no reason why not. 

All my visitors today were of 
the knotted network kind. 

May 16th. No prott yesterday 
or today. 

May 18th. At last! Three prott! 
From subsequent analysis of the 
network patterns, all had been 
here to interview me before. We 



began communication about ha- 
bitat and what, with protoplasm, 
would be metabolic processes, but 
they did not seem interested. 
They left soon. 

Why do they visit the ship, 
anyhow? Curiosity? That motive 
must not be so powerful by now. 
Because of something they want 
from me? I imagine so; it is again 
an awareness of some psychic 
itch. And that gives me a lead 
as to the course I should follow. 

The next time they appear, I 
shall try to be more passive in 
my communications. I shall try 
not to lead them on to any par- 
ticular subject. Not only is this 
good interviewing technique, it is 
essential in this case if I am to 
gain their full cooperation. 

M AY 20. After a fruitless wait 
yesterday, today there was 
one lone prott. In accordance 
with my recent decision, I adopt- 
ed a highly passive attitude to- 
ward it. I sent out signals of 
willingness and receptivity, and 
I waited, watching the prott. 

For five or ten minutes there 
was “silence.” The prott moved 
about in the viewers with an ef- 
fect of restlessness, though it 
might have been any other emo- 
tion, of course. Suddenly, with 
great haste and urgency, it be- 
gan to send. I had again that 
image of the cork blowing out of 
the champagne bottle. 



88 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



I TS sending was remarkably 
difficult for me to follow. At 
the end of the first three minutes 
or so, I was wringing wet with 
sweat. Its communications were 
repetitive, urgent, and, I believe, 
pleasurable. I simply had no 
terms into which to translate 
them. They seemed to involve 
many verbs. 

I “listened” passively, trying to 
preserve my mental equilibrium. 
My bewilderment increased as 
the prott continued to send. Fi- 
nally I had to recognize that I 
was getting to a point where in- 
tellectual frustration would in- 
terfere with' 4 my telepathy. I . 
ventured to put a question, a 
simple “Please classify” to the 
prott. 

Its sending slackened and then 
ceased abruptly. It disappeared. 

What did I learn from the in- 
terview? That the passive ap- 
proach is the correct one, and 
that a prott will send freely (and 
most confusingly, as far as I am 
concerned) if it is not harassed 
with questions or directed to a 
particular topic. What I didn’t 
learn was what the prott was 
sending about. 

Whatever it was, I have the 
impression that it. was highly 
agreeable to the prott. 

Later — I have been rereading 
the notes I made on my sessions 
with the prott. What has been the 



matter with me? I wonder at my 
blindness. For the topic about 
which the prott was sending — the 
pleasurable, repetitive, embar- 
rassing topic, the one about which 
it could not bear to be questioned, 
the subject which involved so 
many verbs — that topic could be 
nothing other than its sex life. 

When put this baldly, it sounds 
ridiculous. I make haste to qual- 
ify it. We don’t, as yet — and what 
a triumph it is to be able to say 
“as yet” — know anything about 
the manner in which prott repro- 
duce themselves. They may, for 
example, increase by a sort of 
fission. They may be dioecious, as 
so much highly organized life is. 
Or their reproductive cycle may 
involve the cooperative activity 
of two, three or even more differ- 
ent sorts of prott. - 

So far, I have seen only the two 
sorts, those with the solid nu- 
cleus, and those with the intricate 
network of light. That does not 
mean there may not be other 
kinds. 

But what I am driving at is 
this: The topic about which the 
prott communicated with me to- 
day is one which, to the prott, 
has the same emotional and psy- 
chic value that sex has to proto- 
plasmic life. 

(Somehow, at this point, I am 
reminded of a little anecdote of 
my grandmother’s. She used to 
say that there are four things in 



PROTT 



89 



a dog’s life which it is important 
for it to keep in mind, one for 
each foot. The things are food, 
food, sex, and food. She bred 
dachshunds and she knew. Ques- 
tion: does my coming up with 
this recollection at this time mean 
that I suspect the prott’s copu- 
latory activity is also nutritive, 
like the way in which ameba con- 
jugate? Their exchange of nuclei 
seems to have a beneficial effect 
on their metabolism.) 

Be that as it may, I now have 
a thesis to test in my dealings 
with the prott! * 

May 21. There were seven 
prott in the viewer when the sig- 
nal rang. While I watched, more 
and more arrived. It was impos- 
sible to count them accurately, 
but I think there must have been 
at least fifteen. 

They started communicating 
almost immediately. Not wanting 
to disturb them with directives, 
I attempted to “listen” passively, 
but the effect on me was that of 
being caught in a crowd of people 
all talking at once. After a few 
minutes, I was compelled to ask 
them to send one at a time. 

From then on, the sending was 
entirely orderly. 

Orderly, but incomprehensible. 
So much so that, at the end of 
some two hours, I was forced to 
break off the interview. 

It is the first time I have ever 

90 



done such a thing. 

Why did I do it? My motives 
are not entirely clear even to my- 
self. I was trying to receive pas- 
sively, keeping in mind the the- 
ory I had formed about the 
prott’s communication. (And let 
me say at this point that I have 
found nothing to contradict it. 
Nothing whatever.) Yet, as time 
passed, my bewilderment in- 
creased almost painfully. Out of 
the mass of chaotic, repetitive 
material presented to me, I was 
able to form not one single clear 
idea. 

I would not have believed that 
a merely intellectual frustration 
could be so difficult to take. 

The communication itself was 
less difficult than yesterday. I 
must think. 

I have begun to lose weight. 

J UNE 12th. I have not made an 
entry in my diary for a 
long time. In the interval, I have 
had thirty-six interviews with 
prott. 

What emerges from these ses- 
sions, which are so painful and 
frustrating to me, so highly en- 
joyed by the prott? 

First, communication with 
them has become very much eas- 
ier. It has become, in fact, too 
easy. I continually find their 
•thoughts intruding on me at times 
when I cannot welcome them — 
when I am eating, writing up my 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



notes, or trying to sleep. But the 
strain of communication is much 
less and I suppose that does con- 
stitute an advance. 

Second, out of the welter of 
material presented to me, I have 
at last succeeded in forming one 
fairly clear idea. That is that the 
main topic of the prott’s commu- 
nication is a process that could 
be represented verbally as — ing 
the — . I add at once that the 
blanks do not necessarily repre- 
sent an obscenity. I have, in fact, 
no idea what they do represent. 

(The phrases that come into 
my mind in this connection are 
‘‘kicking the bucket” and “bell- 
ing the cat.” It may not be with- 
out significance that one of these 
phrases relates to death and the 
other to danger. Communication 
with prott is so unsatisfactory 
that one cannot afford to neglect 
any intimations that might clar- 
ify it. It is possible that — ing 
the — is something which is po- 
tentially dangerous to prott, but 
that’s only a guess. I could have it 
all wrong, and I probably do.) 

At any rate, my future course 
has become clear. From now on 
I will attempt, by every mental 
means at my disposal, to get the 
prott to specify what — ing the 
— is. There is no longer any fear 
of losing their cooperation. Even 
as I dictate these words to the 
playback, they are sending more 
material about — ing the — to me. 



J UNE 30. The time has gone 
very quickly, and yet each 
individual moment has dragged. 

I have had fifty-two formal inter- 
views with prott — they appear in 
crowds ranging from fifteen to 
forty or so — and countless infor- 
mal ones. My photographic rec- 
ord shows that more than ninety 
per cent of those that have ap- 
peared have been of the luminous 
network kind. 

In all this communication, what 
have I learned? It gives me a sort 
of bitter satisfaction to say : 
“Nothing at all.” 

I am too chagrined to go on. 

July 1. I don’t mean that I 
haven’t explored avenue after 
avenue. For instance, at one time 
it appeared that — ing the — had 
something to do with the inter- 
sections of the luminous network 
in prott of that sort. When I at- 
tempted to pursue this idea, I 
met with a negative that seemed 
amused as well as indignant. 
They indicated that — ing the 
— was concerned with the whit- 
ish body surfaces, but when I 
picked up the theme, I got an- 
other negative signal. And so on. 
I must have attacked the prob- 
lem from fifty different angles, 
but I had to give up on all of 
them. 

— ing the — , it would appear, 
is electrical, non-electrical, soli- 
tary, dual, triple, communal, con- 



P ROTT 



91 



stant, never done at all. At one 
time I thought that it might ap- 
ply to any pleasurable activity, 
but the prott signaled that I was 
all wrong. I broke that session off 
short. 

Outside of their baffling com- 
munications on the subject of 
— ing the — , I have learned al- 
most nothing from the prott. 

(How sick I am of them and 
their inane, vacuous babbling! 
The phrases of our communica- 
tion ring in my mind for hours 
afterward. They haunt me like 
a clinging odor or stubbornly lin- 
gering taste.) 

During one session, a prott 
(solid nucleus, I think, but I am 
not sure) informed me that they 
could live under a wide variety 
of conditions, provided there was 
a source of radiant energy not 
too remote. Besides that scrap of 
information, I have an impres- 
sion that they are grateful to me 
for listening to them. Their feel- 
ings, I think, could be expressed 
in the words “understanding and 
sympathetic." 

I don’t know why they think 
so, I’m sure. I would rather com- 
municate with a swarm of dog- 
fish, which are primitively tele- 
pathic, than listen to any more 
prott. 

I have had to punch another 
hole in my wristwatch strap to 
take up the slack. This makes 
the third one. 



July 3rd. It is difficult for me 
to use the playback, the prott 
are sending so hard. I have 
scarcely a moment’s rest from 
their communications, all con- 
cerned with the same damned 
subject. But I have come to a 
resolve: I am going home. 

Yes, home. It may be that I 
have failed in my project, be- 
cause of inner weaknesses. It may 
be that no man alive could have 
accomplished more. I don’t know. 
But I ache to get away from 
them and the flabby texture of 
their babbling minds. If only 
there were some way of shutting 
them off, of stopping my mental 
ears against them temporarily, I 
think I could stand it. But there 
isn’t. 

I’m going home. I’ve started 
putting course data in the com- 
puters. 

J ULY 4th. They say they are 
going back with me. It seems 
they like me so much, they don’t 
want to be without me. 

I will have to decide. 

July 12th. It is dreadfully hard 
to think, for they are sending 
like mad. 

I am not so altruistic, so un- 
selfish, that I would condemn my- 
self to a lifetime of listening to 
prott if I could get out of it. But 
suppose I ignore the warnings of 
instinct, the dictates of con- 



PROTT 



93 



science, and return to Earth, any- 
how — what will be the result? 

The prott will go with me. I 
will not be rid of them. And I 
will have loosed a wave of prott 
on Earth. 

They want passionately to send 
about — ing the — . They have 
discovered that Earthmen are po- 
tential receptors. I have myself 
to blame for that. If I show them 
the way to Earth . . . 

The dilemma is inherently 
comic, I suppose. It is none the 
less real. Oh, it is possible that 
there is some way of destroying 
prott, and that the resources of 
Earth intelligence might discover 
it. Or, failing that, we might be 
able to work out a way of living 
with them. But the danger is too 
great; I dare not ask my planet 
to face it. I will stay here. 

The Ellis is a strong, comfort- 
able ship. According to my cal- 
culations, there is enough air, 
water and food to last me the 
rest of my natural life. Power — 
since I am not going back — I 
have in abundance. I ought to get 
along all right. 

Except for the prott. When I 
think of them, my heart contracts 
with despair and revulsion. And 
yet — a scientist must be honest — 
it is not all despair. I feel a little 
sorry for them, a little flattered at 
their need for me. And I am not, 
even now, altogether hopeless. 
Perhaps some day — some day — I 



shall understand the prott. 

I am going to put this diary in 
a permaloy cylinder and jet it 
away from the ship with a signal 
rocket. I can soup up the rocket’s 
charge with power from the fuel 
tanks. I have tried it on the cal- 
culators, and I think the rocket 
can make it to the edge of the 
gravitational field of the Solar 
System. 

Good-by, Earth. I am doing it 
for you. Remember me. 

F OX put the last page of the 
manuscript down. “ The poor 
bastard ,” he said. 

“Yeah, the poor bastard. Sit- 
ting out there in deep space, year 
after year, listening to those 
things bellyaching, and thinking 
what a savior he was” 

“I can’t say I feel much sym- 
pathy for him, really. I suppose 
they followed the signal rocket 
back.” 

“Yeah. And then they in- 
creased. Oh, he fixed it, all right.” 
There was a depressed silence. 
Then Fox said, “I’d better go. 
Impatient.” . 

“Mine, too.” 

They said good-by to each 
other on the curb. Fox stood wait- 
ing, still not quite hopeless. But 
after a moment the hateful voice 
within his head bejgan: 

“ I want to tell you more about 
— ing the — ” 

—MARGARET ST. CLAIR 



94 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



( Continued from page 3) 
eyed — notions survive. 

If you believe that close-set 
eyes and lobeless ears constitute 
the criminal type, you can thank 
Lombroso for selling you a pseu- 
do-scientific pup. Its vogue is 
over, thank God, but for a while 
he almost proved it — social re- 
jection drove many citizens into 
crime because they were afflicted 
with these characteristics! 

The insane conviction that 
genius is insanity forges right on, 
however. Maladjustment may 
push a gifted person into some 
endeavor in which he displays 
genius, but an emotionally crip- 
pled genius is only part of a 
genius. Cure his illness, liberate 
him, and he must function more 
ably. But geniuses and non-gen- 
iuses took Lombroso literally, 
and still do, for that matter. 

War is an integral part of 
mankind; it is ineradicable. 

As I’ve stated before, we’d be 
in a worse mess than now if we 
hadn’t fought our just wars. 
Nevertheless, war is inflicted on 
humanity, not sought because, as 
the Nazis remorsely insisted, it’s 
the highest goal of civilization. 
Even after the most intensive in- 
doctrination any modern nation 
has received, Germany was in a 
state of panic in 1939 that was 
resolved by the reality of war. 

I disagree with William James 
that a “moral equivalent” for 



war must be found before we 
can have permanent peace. It’s a 
political and economic expedient, 
not a psychic need. When those 
expedients are no longer neces- 
sary, war will vanish and nothing 
need take its place. 

Human nature cannot change. 

Definition, please! “Human 
nature” is a term without mean- 
ing; it lumps all groups in one 
inchoate mass, disregarding cul- 
tural goals, religions, economic 
setup, level of civilization, every- 
thing that distinguishes one 
branch of humanity from an- 
other. 

This gaseous quality called 
human nature may not change, 
but people do — individuals as 
well as groups. We’ve left sla- 
very and feudalism behind; we 
inhabit this planet from pole to 
equator; we’re idolator and mon- 
otheist; carnivore, herbivore and 
omnivore; pacifist and militarist; 
selfish and idealistic. 

Man, in other words, is in- 
finitely adaptable. He’ll go to 
the stars and he’ll change to 
meet their requirements. He will 
also stay on Earth and learn to 
live in a Galactic Federation. 

The Earth is flat; the stars are 
lamps; the Sun circles the Earth 
— all were once common sense. 
How many of our “common 
sense” concepts are also pure 
nonsense? 

— H. L. COLD 



COMMON SENSE 



95 




THE QUEST FOR UTOPIA, 
edited by Glenn Ne&ley and J. 
Max Patrick. Henry Schuman, 
New York, 1952. 608 pa^es, $6.75 

T HIS is the definitive book on 
utopias for the science fiction 
lover’s collection. It is genuinely 
scholarly without being in the 
least degree dull, authoritative 
without being pretentious. And it 
is crammed full of perfectly won- 
derful stuff. 

Practically all of the utopias 
included are much abbreviated; 
but this in itself is a merit. 
Utopians in general are weari- 
somely wordy, and Negley and 
Patrick have done a highly crea- 



tive job of excerpting. In addi- 
tion, they have modernized and 
sometimes “translated” the an- 
tique language of the older ex- 
amples in such fashion as to 
retain their old-world charm 
while giving them greater clarity. 

Utopias available in modern 
editions are not included, in 
order to keep the book within 
reasonable size limits. However, 
these works are given thorough 
critical evaluation in the editors’ 
informative and pleasantly writ- 
ten biographical-historical notes. 

Oddly, the modem Utopians, 
from Ignatius Donnelly, whose 
truly science fiction Caesar’s 
Column (1892) is effectively ex- 



96 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



cerpted, to Conde Pallen’s vio- 
lently reactionary Crucible 
Island, in 1919, come first. Then 
the classicists, from Thomas 
More to Etienne Cabet, with his 
dull, idealistic Voyage to Icaria, 
come next. Finally, there is a 
return to contemporary utopian 
thought, with a 10-page summary 
of current stuff up to and in- 
cluding Orwell, C. S. Lewis, and 
B. F. Skinner, whose Walden 
Two (1948) is given quite a 
going-over by the editors. 

In all, a valuable job. The 
modern reader cannot fully ap- 
preciate good contemporary 
science fiction stories unless he 
has some knowledge of the his- 
torical trend of utopian thought 
and of the highlights of utopian 
writing. This book will give him 
that knowledge, and very plea- 
surably, too. 

FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE 
by Isaac Asimov. Gnome Press, 
New York, 1952. 247 pages, $2.75 

TTERE is the second book of 
what eventually will be a 
three-volume history of the First 
and Second Foundations, and of 
the Galactic Empire which these 
odd organizations of psycho- 
historian Hari Seldon, these oases 
of science in the midst of a desert 
of galactic worlds returning to 
barbarism, strove to bring back 
to a new culture. The first vol- 



ume, Foundation, was reviewed 
in the February 1952 GALAXY. 

Volume Two takes Asimov’s 
remarkable epic through the end 
of the first part of the story about 
“The Mule,’’ that fantastic mu- 
tant who nearly overthrew the 
whole Seldon plan. 

For those who remember the 
series from its original appear- 
ance in Astounding Science Fic- 
tion, it can be said that it stands 
up magnificently. And for read- 
ers who are new to it, it can be 
reported that this fine swash- 
buckling galactic adventure is 
based (unlike most such items) 
on some extremely hard-headed, 
scientific and mature social-po- 
litical thinking. Asimov takes his 
galactic civilizations up (and 
down) much the same culture 
steps that our own Earth society 
has trod, and this gives his im- 
aginative romance a very solid, 
social-scientific air. 

TIMELESS STORIES, edited 
By Ray Bradbury. Bantam 
Books, New York, 1952. 320 
pages, 35 $ 

TF there is anyone around who 
thinks creative writing is in 
the doldrums in America, he 
should have a look at this collec- 
tion of 26 tales of the imagina- 
tion, edited by one who really 
knows good fantasy when he sees 
it. Roughly half a dozen tales 



★ ★ ★ ★ * SHELF 



97 



are by Europeans; the rest are 
by Americans and good! 

It is a strictly contemporary 
collection, too. Outside of Kaf- 
ka’s weird and overlong “In the 
Penal Colony” and “Inflexible 
Logic,” that wonderful straight- 
faced farce by the lamented Rus- 
sell Maloney, the stories are, I 
think, all by authors still living. 
Eighteen bear copyright dates 
later than 1940. 

It would be pointless to list 
the whole table of contents here. 
Every selection is distinguished, 
though two or three seem a bit 
tenuous. 

Particularly outstanding are 
John Steinbeck’s ribald "Saint 
Katy the Virgin,” Ludwig Bem- 
elmans’ gruesomely charming 
“Putzi,” Henry Kuttner’s lovely 
“Housing Problem,” J. C. Fur- 
nas’ “The Laocoon Complex,” 
which is particularly good con- 
sidering the nature of the author’s 
usual matter-of-fact writing, and 
Hortense Calisher’s completely 
terrifying “Heartburn.” 

The only author not included, 
whom one automatically would 
expect to find in such a collec- 
tion, is John Collier. Ray himself 
is represented by “The Pedes- 
trian,” which was elaborated 
from a passage in his novella, 
“The Fireman,” published in the 
February 1951 GALAXY. 

An enchanting collection — and, 
at 35^, 1952’s Best Buy! 



AWAY AND BEYOND by A. 
E. van Vogt. Pellegrini 8s Cuda- 
hy, New York, 1952. 309 pages, 
$3.50 

C OMES now a new helping of 
that very high-spiced, faintly 
spoiled caviar that is van Vogt’s 
science fiction : nine stories of 
the Impossible clutching the Ra- 
tional by the throat and aston- 
ishing it to death. Very nice, too. 

Curiously, the best story in the 
book seems to be the one bearing 
most closely on reality: that 
memorable tale, “Secret Unat- 
tainable,” in which a highly cir- 
cumstantial story of the invention 
— and destruction — of a matter 
transmitter in Nazi Germany is 
told through the medium of 
memos, telegrams, interviews, 
letters, etc., from and to notables 
like Himmler, Heydrich, Hitler 
and also such fictional characters 
as Professor Kenrube, the inven- 
tor of the process. It is a re- 
markably real story that will 
stay with you for a long time. 

Other tales include “The Vault 
of the Beast,” a fruity epic of 
Evil Beings on Mars who create 
the weirdest robot yet to conquer 
Man; “Heir Unapparent,” about 
a bad dictator trying to take 
over from a good one; “Second 
Solution,” a rather fascinating 
incident in the van Vogt epic 
of the Rulls, the Ezwals, and 
Professor Jamieson; and “Asy- 



98 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



lum,” second-best story in the 
book from my point of view, 
which tells of the first contact 
of the Galactic civilization with 
Earth through the malign inter- 
vention of a pair of vampiric 
Dreeghs. 

In general, a book for van Vogt 
completists, as well as for lovers 
of gee-whizz writing, such as 
myself. 

THE BEST SCIENCE FIC- 
TION STORIES, 1952. Edited 
by Everett F. Bleiler and T. E. 
Dikty. Frederick Fell, Inc., New 
York, 1952. 288 pages, $2.95 

T HE fourth in this series of 
annuals contains 18 stories 
from the 1951 magazines. I class 
13 as A or better, 2 as B, and 3 
as C or less. A truly excellent 
average. # 

The dullest and most preten- 
tious part of the book is the 
introduction, a heavy-handed 
literary survey of the literature 
of protest, only slightly con- 
nected to the science fiction in 
the book. 

For readers who loved Peter 
Phillips’ "Unknown Quantity,” 
from the British New Worlds, 
it should be pointed out that his 
“At No Extra Cost” in this vol- 
ume is the same tale. 

Other outstanding jobs include 
Leiber’s “Appointment in To- 
morrow,” (previously antholo- 



gized under the title “Poor 
Superman!” in Heinlein’s To- 
morrow the Stars), Kornbluth’s 
“The Marching Morons,” Best- 
er’s “Of Time and Third Ave- 
nue,” Boucher’s “Nine-Finger 
Jack,” and Reynolds’ and 
Brown’s “Dark Interlude,” (also 
anthologized in the GALAXY 
Reader of Science Fiction late 
last year). 

A N unusual item that GAL- 
AXY readers might like to 
know about deserves mention 
here. This is Donald B. Day’s 
superb Index to the Science Fic- 
tion Magazines (Perri Press, 
Portland, Ore., $6.50). This big 
book contains a complete listing 
of the contents of all the science 
fiction magazines by authors’ 
and artists’ names and by story 
titles. The book has already 
saved me hours of work and a 
goodly number of errors — for 
which I can only hope for Mr. 
Day the reward of a truly ap- 
preciative market which will at 
least to some degree repay him 
for his efforts. 

May we hope also that the 
compiler is planning to issue bi- 
ennial supplements? The years 
1951-1952 have been very fruit- 
ful of good — and bad — science 
fiction. The need for an index for 
these years is even greater than 
for earlier decades. 

—GROFF CONKLIN 



★ ★★★★SHELF 



99 



Ring Around 

By CLIFFORD D. SIMAK 

Hunted down for his strangeness, Vickers found himself hemmed 
in with no escape. But there was a way out— into the unknown! 

Illustrated by DON SIBLEY 




too 




SYNOPSIS 

VK7 ORLD industry is backed 
against the wall, fighting 
an enemy which it cannot iden- 
tify. The razor blade industry 
has been wiped out by an ever- 
lasting blade — buy one and never 
have to buy another. A cigarette 
lighter, never needing new flints, 
never needing fluid, has destroyed 

RING AROUND THE SUN 



the lighter industry. The light 
bulb manufacturers are out of 
business because of an everlast- 
ing bulb. The auto industry is 
threatened by a new car, guar- 
anteed to run forever. Housing 
interests are faced with extinc- 
tion by the introduction of new 
houses which are manufactured 
to sell at $500 a room. 

i4s if all this were not bad 

101 



enough, the cold war, in this year 
of 1977,' still is going on, com- 
plete with incident and insult, 
but never quite breaking out into 
shooting war. 

The Pretentionists are a sign 
of this tension — a club move- 
ment, spreading rapidly, with the 
members of the clubs effecting 
a ■ retreat into the past by pre- 
tending that they are living in 
some other era. 

Jay Vickers, a writer, is in- 
vited through his literary agent, 
Ann Carter, to meet George 
Crawford. Crawford, it turns 
out, is the head of North Ameri- 
can Research, a front for a world- 
wide organization of industries 
which have banded together to 
fight the invisible company or 
companies which are producing 
the “ everlasting ” items. Craw- 
ford is convinced that the “ever- 
lasting" companies want to de- 
stroy the entire global economic 
structure. 

Crawford wants Vickers to 
write a book exposing this threat, 
but Vickers refuses. Because of 
his refusal, he and Ann quarrel. 
Each of them, without realizing 
it (and if realizing, not admit- 
ting it) are in love with the other. 
Ann is angry because he could 
have named his price, hut he in- 
sists he has a book to finish. 

Vickers still remembers a girl 
named Kathleen Preston, with 
whom he was in love some 20 



years before. He has managed to 
thrust this memory far back in 
his mind, but when the moppet 
next door asks him why he isn't 
married, it all comes back to 
him and he recalls the day that 
he and Kathleen had walked in 
what seemed to be an enchanted 
valley. 

Vickers and Ann visit an ex- 
hibit of the new $500-a-room 
houses. The deal is astonishing 
— Vickers, for instance, has a 
$20,000 home which the company 
would accept as a trade-in — and 
pay him the difference, over $15,- 
000, in cash! 

Returning home alone, Vickers 
finds Horton Flanders, an eccen- 
tric old neighbor, waiting to 
spend the evening with him. In 
the course of their talk, Flanders 
declares that he believes there is 
some intervening force which 
keeps the world from war, that 
this same force some 80 years 
before had given the world a kick 
in the pants, booting it out of its 
rut and sending it at a gallop 
along a new road of scientific and 
technological achievement. 

Under Vickers' questioning, 
Flanders hints at some reason to 
believe there must be reservoirs 
of knowledge in the stars and 
expresses a belief that Man can 
reach out mentally and tap those 
reservoirs. 

After Flanders goes home, 
Vickers hears a mouse. There 



102 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



shouldn't be any mice, since the 
exterminator had been there that 
day. He sees the mouse in a cor- 
ner and hurls a paperweight at 
it. It comes apart, no mouse, but 
some contraption which Vickers 
believes may be a spying device. 

Vickers starts out in the mid- 
dle of the night to try to get out 
of Flanders the truth of the hints 
which he had dropped, only to 
find that Flanders has disappear- 
ed and is being hunted by a vil- 
lage posse. 

The next day Vickers gets a 
letter from Flanders apologizing 
for causing him inconvenience by 
disappearing, but explaining that 
it was necessary that he do so. 
He recommends that Vickers re- 
visit the scenes of his childhood 
“so you may see with clearer 
eyes." 

Frantically seeking a key to 
the mystery which appears to be 
centering about him, Vickers 
finds in his attic a book of notes, 
written many years before, which 
indicates that he is somehow dif- 
ferent than the normal run of 
humans. 

A friend, of his, Eb, the gar age - 
man, comes to warn him that he 
is suspected of doing away with 
Flanders and that a lynch mob 
is forming. Eb tells him he must 
get away and has brought along 
a new Forever car in which he 
can make his escape. 

Vickers flees to his childhood 



country. Revisiting his old home, 
now standing vacant, he finds a 
battered top which he had lost 
when a boy of eight. 

He remembers an incident en- 
tirely forgotten until now, that 
the top once had taken him, as a 
child, into fairyland. Years later, 
he and Kathleen Preston had 
wandered into that same en- 
chanted valley — from which he 
had brought home a flower in 
winter. 

He tries to buy another top to 
try the trip again, but tops have 
gone out of style and there are 
none for sale. So he repairs the 
ancient one and repaints it, feel- 
ing that perhaps it will serve the 
purpose. 

Running out of money, he calls 
Ann Carter to have her telegraph 
him funds. She tells him that 
Crawford is searching frantically 
for him. 

Later that night Crawford, who 
has had Ann’s phone tapped in 
an effort to locate Vickers, shows 
up at Vickers' hotel room. He 
tells Vickers that the people in- 
dustry is fighting are a group of 
mutants who are systematically 
going about the reduction of 
Earth’s economic system as the 
first step in building a world in 
which the mutant will be the 
Cro-Magnon to the normal man’s 
Neanderthal. He says that Vick- 
ers is an unsuspecting mutant, 
pleads with him to work together 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



103 



in reaching an understanding be- 
tween the mutants and the nor- 
mal humans to avert war. He 
hints that Ann Carter also is a 
mutant, likewise not aware of 
her mutancy. 

Crawford says the normal hu- 
mans have a secret weapon which 
they will not hesitate to use to 
smash the mutants. All of this 
baffles Vickers and makes him 
feel helpless , for he has not been 
in contact with any mutants and 
certainly not with their organi- 
zation. And he is afraid of Craw- 
ford, who is even more afraid of 
Vickers — which makes him all 
the more dangerous. 

XXIV 

W HEN he could hear Craw- 
ford’s footfalls no longer, 
Vickers went to the telephone and 
lifted it and gave a number, then 
waited for the connection to be 
made. 

He’d have to tell Ann fast. He 
couldn’t waste much time, for 
Crawford’s wire tappers would be 
listening. She must be out and 
gone before they could reach her 
door. 

He’d say: “Will you do some- 
thing for me, Ann? Will you do 
it without question, without ask- 
ing why?” 

He’d say: “You remember that 
place where you asked about the 
stove? I’ll meet you there.” 



Then he’d say: “Get out of 
your apartment. Get out and 
hide. Stay out of sight. Right 
this minute. Not an hour from 
now. Not five minutes. Not a 
minute. Hang up this phone and 
go.” 

It would have to be fast. It 
would have to be sure. It would 
have to be blind. 

He couldn’t say, “Ann, you’re 
a mutant,” then have her want 
to know what a mutant was and 
how he came to know and what 
it meant, while all the time the 
listeners would be moving to- 
ward her door. 

She had to go on faith. But 
would she? 

Thinking of how she might 
want to argue, how she might 
not want to go without a reason 
for her going, he felt the moisture 
trickle out of his armpits and run 
down his ribs. 

The phone was ringing now. 
He tried to recall what her apart- 
ment looked like, how the phone 
sat on the table at the end of the 
davenport, and how she would be 
coming across the room to lift 
the receiver, and in a moment he 
would hear her voice. 

The operator said, “That num- 
ber doesn’t answer, sir.” 

“Try this one, then,” he said, 
giving the operator the number 
of her office. 

He waited again and heard the 
ringing. 



104 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“That number doesn’t answer, 
sir,” the operator finally said. 

“Thank you,” said Vickers. 

“Shall I try again?” 

“No,” said Vickers. “Cancel 
the call, please.” 

He had to think and plan. He 
had to try to figure out what it 
was all about. Before this, it had 
been easy to seek refuge in the 
belief that it was imagination, 
that he and the world were half 
insane, that everything would be 
all right if he’d just ignore what- 
ever might be going on. 

He couldn’t believe it any 
longer. 

For now he must accept at face 
value the story that Crawford 
had told, sitting . in this room, 
with his massive bulk bulging in 
the chair, with his face unchang- 
ing and his voice a flat monotone 
that pronounced threats, but gave 
them no inflection and also no 
life. 

He must believe in human mu- 
tation and in a world divided 
and embattled. He must believe 
even in the fairyland of child- 
hood, for if he actually was a 
mutant, then fairyland somehow 
was a mark of it. 

H E tried to tie together the 
implications of Crawford’s 
story, tried to understand what 
it all might mean, but there 
were too many ramifications, too 
many random factors, too much 



he did not know. 

There was a world of mutants, 
men and women who were more 
than normal, persons who had 
certain human talents and cer- 
tain human understandings which 
the normal men and women of 
the world had never known or, 
having known, could not utilize 
in their entirety, unable to use 
intelligently all the mighty pow- 
ers which lay dormant in their 
brains. 

This was the next step up. 
This was evolution. This was 
how the human race advanced. 

“And God knows,” said Vick- 
ers to the empty room, “it needs 
advancement now if it ever did.” 

A band of mutants, working 
together, but working undercover 
since the normal world would 
turn on them with fang and claw 
for their very differentness if they 
revealed themselves. 

And what was this different- 
ness? What could they hope to 
do with it? 

A few of the things he knew — 
Forever cars and everlasting razor 
blades and the light bulbs that 
did not burn out and synthetic 
carbohydrates that fed the hun- 
gry and helped to hold war at 
arm’s length from the throat of 
humanity. 

But what else? Surely there 
was more than that. 

Intervention, Horton Flanders 
had said, rocking on the porch. 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



105 



Some sort of intervention that 
had helped the world advance 
and then had staved off, some- 
how or other, the bitter, terrible 
fruits of progress wrongly used. 

Horton Flanders was the man 
who could tell him, Vickers knew. 
But where was Horton Flanders 
now? 

‘‘They’re hard to catch,” Craw- 
ford had said. “You ring door- 
bells and wait. You send in your 
name and wait. You track them 
down and wait. And they’re never 
where you think they are, but 
somewhere else.” 

First, thought Vickers, plotting 
out his moves, I’ve got to get out 
of here and be hard to catch 
myself. 

Second, find Ann and see that 
she is hidden out. 

Third, find Horton Flanders 
and, if he doesn’t want to talk, 
choke it out of him. 

He picked up the top and went 
downstairs and turned in his key. 
The clerk got out his bill. 

“I have a message for you,” 
said the clerk, reaching back into 
the pigeonhole that held the key. 
“The gentleman who was up to 
see you a while ago gave it to 
me before he left.” 

He handed across an envelope 
and Vickers ripped it open, pull- 
ed out a folded sheet. 

“A funny kind of business,” 
said the clerk. “He’d just been 
talking to you.” 



“Yes,” said Vickers, “it is a 
funny kind of business.” 

The note read: Don’t try to 
use that car of yours. If any- 
thing happens, keep your mouth 
shut . 

It was a very funny kind of 
business. 

XXV 

V ICKERS drove toward the 
dawn. The road was deserted 
and the car ran like a fleeing 
thing, with no sound but the 
whistle of the tires as they hugged 
the pavement on the curves. Be- 
side him, on the seat, the gaily 
painted top rolled back and forth 
to the motion of the car. 

There were two things wrong, 
two immediate things: 

He should have stopped at the 
Preston house. 

He should not have used the 
car. 

Both, of course, were foolish, 
and he berated himself for think- 
ing of them. He pushed the ac- 
celerator down so that the whistle 
of the tires became a high, shrill 
scream as they took the curves. 

He should have stopped at the 
Preston house and tried out the 
top. That, he told himself, was 
what he had planned to do, and 
he searched in his mind for the 
reasons that had made him plan 
it that way, but there were no 
reasons. If the top worked, it 

GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



106 



would work anywhere and that 
was all there could be to it. It 
wouldn’t matter where it worked, 
although deep inside him was a 
feeling that it did matter to him, 
at least, where it worked. There 
was something special about the 
Preston house. It was a key point 
— it must be a key point in this 
mystery of mutants. 

I couldn’t take the time, he 
argued with himself. The first 
job is to get back to New York 
and find Ann and get her out of 
sight. 

For Ann, he told himself, must 
be the other mutant, although 
once again, as with the Preston 
house, he could not be entirely 
sure. There was no reason, no 
substantial proof, that Ann Car- 
ter was a mutant. 

Reason* he thought. Reason 
and proof. And what are they? 
No more than the orderly logic 
on which Man has built his 
world. Could there be inside a 
man another sense, another yard- 
stick by which one could live, 
setting aside the matter of reason 
and of proof as childish things 
which once had been good 
enough, though clumsy at the 
best? Could there be a way of 
knowing right from wrong, good 
from bad, without the endless 
reasoning and the dull parade of 
proof? Intuition? That was fe- 
male nonsense. Premonition? 
That was superstition. 



And yet were they really fe- 
male nonsense and superstition? 
For years researchers had con- 
cerned themselves with extra- 
sensory perception, a sixth sense 
that Man might hold within him- 
self, but had been unable to 
develop to its full capacity. 

And if extra -sensory perception 
were possible, then many other 
abilities were possible as well — 
the psycho-kinetic control of ob- 
jects through the power of mind 
alone, the ability to look into 
the future, the recognition of time 
as something other than the 
movement of the hands upon a 
clock, the ability to know and 
manipulate unsuspected dimen- 
sional extensions of the space- 
time continuum. 

IT'IVE senses, Vickers thought — 
the sense of smell, of sight, 
of hearing, of taste and touch. 
Those were the five that Man 
had known since time immemo- 
rial, but did it mean that was all 
he had? Were there other senses 
waiting in his mind for develop- 
ment, as the opposable thumb, 
the erect posture and logical 
thinking had been developed 
throughout the millenia of Man’s 
existence? He had evolved from 
a tree-dwelling, fear-shivering 
thing into a club-carrying animal, 
into a fire-making animal. He 
had made, first of all, the sim- 
plest of tools, then more complex 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



107 



tools, and finally tools so com- 
plex that they Were machines. 

All of this had been done as 
the result of developing intelli- 
gence. Was it not possible that 
the development of intelligence, 
the development of the human 
senses, was not finished yet? And 
if this were true, why not a sixth 
sense, or a seventh, or an eighth, 
or any number of additional 
senses, which would come under 
the general heading of the nat- 
ural evolution of the human 
race? 

Was that, Vickers wondered, 
what had happened to the mu- 
tants, the sudden development of 
these additional and only half- 
suspected senses? Was not the 
mutation logical in itself — the 
thing that one might well expect? 

He swirled through little vil- 
lages still sleeping between the 
night and dawn and went past 
farm houses lying strangely naked 
in the half light that ran on the 
eastern skyline. 

Don’t try to use the car, Craw- 
ford’s note had read. And that 
was foolish, too, for there was 
no reason why he should not use 
the car. No reason other than 
Crawford’s saying so. And who 
was Crawford? An enemy? Per- 
haps, although at times he didn’t 
act like one. A man who was 
afraid of the defeat that he felt 
sure would come, more fearful, 
seemingly, of the commission of 



defeat than of defeat itself. 

Reason once again. 

No reason why he should not 
use the car. But he was faintly 
uneasy, using it. 

No reason why he should have 
stopped at the Preston house and 
still, in his heart, he felt he had 
somehow failed by not stopping 
there. 

No reason to believe Ann Car- 
ter was a mutant, and yet he 
was sure she was. 

He drove through the morning, 
with the fog rising from all the 
little streams he crossed, with the 
flush of sun against the eastern 
sky, with, finally, boys and dogs 
going after cows, and the first 
traffic on the road. 

He suddenly realized that he 
was hungry and a little sleepy, 
but he couldn’t stop to sleep. He 
had to keep on going. When it 
became dangerous to drive, he 
would have to sleep, but not un- 
til then, and then not for long. 

But he’d have to stop some- 
where to eat. At the next town 
he came to, if it had an eating 
place that was open, he would 
stop and eat. Perhaps a cup or 
two of coffee would chase away 
the sleep. 

XXVI 

HHHE town was large and there 
were eating places and people 
on the street, the six o’clock fac- 



108 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



tory workers on the way to their 
seven o’clock jobs. 

He picked out a restaurant 
that didn’t look too bad, that had 
less of the cockroach look about 
it than some of the others, and 
slowed to a crawl, looking for a 
parking place. He found one a 
block away. 

He parked and got out, locked 
the door. Standing on the side- 
walk, he sniffed the morning. It 
still was fresh, with the deceptive 
coolness of a summer morning. 

He’d have breakfast, he told 
himself, take his time eating it, 
give himself a chance to relax, 
to let some of the road fatigue 
drop from his bones. 

lt/|AYBE he’d ought to call 
Ann again. This morning he 
might catch her in. He’d feel 
safer if she knew and if she were 
in hiding. Perhaps instead of just 
meeting him at the place where 
they sold the houses, she should 
go there and explain to them 
what the situation was and they 
might help her. But to explain 
that to Ann would take too long. 
He had to tell her fast and she 
had to go on faith. 

He went back down the street 
and turned in at the restaurant 
door. There were tables, but no 
one seemed to be using them. All 
the eaters were bellied up to the 
counter. There were a few stools 
still left and Vickers took one. 

RING AROUN D THE SUN 



On the left side of him, a 
husky workman in faded shirt 
and bulging overalls was noisily 
slurping up a bowl of oatmeal, 
head bent close above the bowl, 
shoveling the cereal into hie 
mouth with a rapidly moving 
spoon that dipped and lifted, 
dipped and lifted, almost as if 
the man were attempting to es- 
tablish a siphoning flow of the 
food into his mouth. On the other 
side sat a man in blue slacks and 
white shirt with a neat black 
bow. He wore glasses and he read 
a paper and he was, from the 
look of him, a bookkeeper or 
something of the sort, a man 
handy with a column of figures 
and very smug about it. 

A waitress came and mopped 
the counter in front of Vickers 
with a wet cloth. 

“What’ll you have?” she asked 
impersonally, running the ques- 
tion together into a single word. 

“Stack of cakes,” said Vickers, 
“with a side of ham.” 

“Coffee?” 

“Coffee.” 

The breakfast came and he ate 
it, hurriedly at first, stuffing his 
mouth with great forkfuls of 
syrup-dripping cakes, with gen- 
erous cuts of ham, then more 
slowly as the bite of hunger was 
appeased. 

The overalled man got up and 
left. A girl with drooping eyelids 
took his place. Some weary sec- 

109 



retary, Vickers thought, with 
only an hour or two of sleep 
after a night out. 

He was almost through eating 
when he heard the shouting in 
the street outside, then the sound 
of running feet. 

The girl beside him swung 
around on her stool and looked 
out the window. 

“Everybody’s running,” she 
said. "I wonder what’s the 
trouble.” 

A man stopped outside the door 
and yelled, “They found one of 
them Forever cars!” 

E VERYBODY leaped from the 
stools and surged toward the 
door. Vickers followed slowly. 

They’d found a Forever car, 
the shouting man had said. The 
only one they could have found 
was the one Vickers had parked 
just up the street. 

They had tipped the car over 
and rolled it out into the middle 
of the road. They were ringed 
around it, shouting and shaking 
their fists. Someone threw a brick 
or stone at it and the sound of 
the object striking its metal 
boomed through the early morn- 
ing street like a cannon shot. 

Someone picked up whatever 
had been thrown and heaved it 
through the door of a hardware 
store. Reaching in through the 
broken glass, someone else un- 
locked the door. Men streamed 



in and came out again, carrying 
mauls and axes. 

The crowd drew back to give 
them elbow room. The mauls and 
axes flashed in the slanted sun- 
light. They struck and struck 
again. Glass shattered with a 
crunching sound, then came the 
metallic clanging and denting. 

Vickers stood beside the res- 
taurant door, sick in the pit of 
his stomach, his brain frozen 
with what later might be fear, 
but which now was no more than 
astonishment and blind befud- 
dlement. 

Crawford had written: Don't 
try to use that cars of yours. 

This was what he’d meant. 

Crawford had known what 
would happen to any Forever 
car found parked upon the street. 

Crawford had known and tried 
to warn him. 

Friend or foe? 

Vickers reached out a hand 
and put it, palm flat, against the 
rough brick of the building. 

The touch of the brick, the 
roughness of it, told him that this 
was happening, that it was no 
dream, that he actually stood 
here, in front of a restaurant in 
which he had just eaten break- 
fast, and saw a mob, mad with 
hate, smashing up his car. 

The people finally know. 
They’ve been told about the mu- 
tants. 

And they hate the mutants. 



110 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



Of course they hate them, be- 
cause the existence of the mu- 
tants makes them second-class 
humans, because they are Nean- 
derthalers suddenly invaded by 
a bow and arrow people. 

He turned and went back into 
the restaurant, ready to leap and 
run if someone should suddenly 
shout behind him, if a finger 
tapped his shoulder. 

The bespectacled man with the 
black bow tie had left the paper 
beside his plate. Vickers picked 
it up, walked steadily on, down 
the length of counter. He pushed 
open the swinging door that led 
into the kitchen. There was no 
one there. He walked through 
the kitchen rapidly, let himself 
out the rear door into an alley. 

He went down the alley, found 
another narrow one between two 
buildings, leading to an opposite 
street. He took it, crossed the 
street when he came to it, fol- 
lowed another alleyway between 
two buildings that led to another 
alley. 

“They’ll fight,” Crawford had 
said, sitting in the hotel room 
the night before, his big body 
filling the chair to overflowing. 
"They’ll fight with what they 
have.” 

So now they were fighting, 
striking with what they had. They 
had picked up their club and 
were fighting back. 

He found a park and walking 

RING AROUND THE SUN 



through it. came across a bench 
shielded from the street by a 
clump of bushes. He sat down 
and unfolded the paper he had 
taken from the restaurant, turned 
its pages back until he found the 
front page. 

And there the story was. 
XXVII 

T HE headline said: we are 
BEING TAKEN OVER! 

The drop read: PLOT BY SUPER 
MEN REVEALED. 

And the deck : Superhuman 
Race Among Us; Mystery of 
Everlasting Razor Blades Solved. 
And the story: 

WASHINGTON (Special) - The 
greatest danger the human race has 
faced in all the years of its exist- 
ence— a danger which may reduce 
all of us to slavery— was revealed 
today in a joint announcement by 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
the military chiefs of staff and the 
Washington office of the Interna- 
tional Bureau of Economics. 

The joint announcement was 
made at a news conference called 
by President Humphrey. 

Simultaneous announcements were 
made in all the other major capi- 
tals of the world— London, Moscow, 
Paris, Madrid, Rome, Cairo, Peking 
and a dozen other cities. 

The announcement revealed that 
a new race of human beings, called 
mutants, has developed, and is 
banded together in an attempt to 

111 



win domination over the entire 
world. 

A mutant, in the sense in which 
it is here used, is a human being 
who has undergone a sudden varia- 
tion, the child differing from the 
parent, as opposed to the gradual 
change by which the human race 
has evolved to its present form. 
The variation, in this case, has not 
been noticeably physical; that is, 
a mutant is indistinguishable, so 
far as the eye is concerned, from 
any other human. The variation has 
been mental, with the mutant pos- 
sessing certain skills which the nor- 
mal human does not have— certain 
“wild talents,” the announcement 
said. 

(See adjoining column for full ex- 
planation of mutancy.) 

The announcement (full text in 
column 4) said that the mutants 
had embarked upon a campaign to 
destroy the economic system of the 
world through the manufacture of 
certain items, such as the everlast- 
ing razor blade, the everlasting light 
bulb, the Forever car, the new pre- 
fabricated houses and the items 
generally sold in the so-called “gad- 
get shops.” 

The mutant group, it was re- 
vealed, has been under investigation 
by various governmental and inde- 
pendent agencies for several years 
and the findings, when correlated, 
showed unmistakably that a definite 
campaign was under way to take 
over the entire world. The formal 
announcement of the situation, it 
was said, was delayed until there 
could be no doubt concerning the 
authenticity of the reports. 



The announcement called upon 
the citizenry of the world to join in 
the fight to circumvent the plot At 
the same time it pleaded for a nor- 
mal continuation of all activity and 
advised against hysteria. 

“There is no occasion for appre- 
hension,” the announcement said. 
“Certain countermeasures are being 
taken.” There was no hint as to 
what any of these countermeasures 
might be. When the reporter at- 
tempted to question the spokesman 
concerning them, he was told that 
this was restricted information. 

To aid the world governments in 
their campaign against the intentions 
of the mutants, the announcement 
said that every citizen should take 
these steps: 

1— Keep your head. Do not give 
way to hysteria. 

2— Refrain from using any mu- 
tant-manufactured items. 

3— Refuse to buy any mutant- 
manufactured items. Persuade others 
against their use or purchase. 

4— Immediately inform the FBI 
of any suspicious circumstances 
which might have a bearing upon 
the situation. 

The announcement said that first 
suspicions of any attempt at domina- 
(Continued on Page 11) 

Vickers did not turn to Page 
11. Instead, he studied the rest 
of the front page. 

There was the story which ex- 
plained mutation and the com- 
plete text of the announcement. 
There was a signed article by 
some professor of biology, dis- 



112 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



cussing the probable effects of 
mutation and its hypothetical 
causes. 

There were a half a dozen bul- 
letins. They read: 

new YORK (AP) - Mobs today 
swept through the city armed with 
axes and iron bars. They swarmed 
into gadget shops, destroying the 
merchandise, smashing the fixtures. 
Apparently no one was found in 
any of the shops. One man was 
killed, but it was not believed he 
was connected with a gadget shop. 

WASHINGTON (UP) -A mob early 
today attacked and killed a man 
driving a Forever car. The car was 
smashed. 

LONDON (INS) -The government 
today threw a heavy guard around 
several housing development proj- 
ects containing a number of the 
prefabricated houses attributed to 
mutant manufacture. 

“The people who purchased these 
houses,” said an explanation accom- 
panying the order, "purchased them 
in good faith. They are in no way 
connected or to be connected with 
the conspiracy. The guards were 
ordered to protect these innocent 
people and their neighbors against 
any misdirected public violence.” 

St. Malo, France (Reuters) -The 
body of a man was found hanging 
from a lamp post at dawn today. A 
placard with the crude lettering of 
"Mutant” was pinned to his shirt 
front. 



V ICKERS let the paper fall 
from his hand. It made a 
ragged tent upon the ground. 

He stared out across the park. 
Morning traffic was flowing by 
on the roadway a block away. 
A boy came along a walk, bounc- 
ing a ball as he walked. A few 
pigeons circled down through the 
trees and strutted on the grass, 
cooing absently. 

Normal, he thought. A normal 
morning, with people going to 
work and kids out playing and 
the pigeons strutting on the grass. 

But underneath it was a cur- 
rent of savagery. Behind it all, 
behind the facade of civilization, 
the present was crouching in the 
cave, lying in ambush against 
the coming of the future. Lying 
in wait for himself and Ann and 
Horton Flanders. 

Thank God, he thought, that 
no one had thought to connect 
him with the car. Perhaps, later 
on, someone would. Someone 
might remember seeing him get 
out of the car. Perhaps someone 
would fasten suspicion upon the 
man who, of all of them, had not 
run out of the restaurant and 
joined the mob around the car. 

But for the moment he was 
safe. How long he would remain 
safe was another matter. 

Now what? 

He considered it. 

Steal a car and continue his 
trip? 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



113 



XXVIII 



He didn’t know how to steal 
a car; he would probably bungle 
it. 

But there was something else 
— something that needed doing 
right away. 

He had to get the top. 

He had left it in the car and 
he’d have to get it back. 

But why risk his neck to get 
the top? 

It didn’t make much sense. 
Come to think of it, it made no 
sense at all. Still, he knew he had 
to do it. 

Crawford’s warning about not 
driving the car hadn’t made 
sense, either, at the time he read 
it He had disregarded it and felt 
uneasy about disregarding it, had 
known, against all logic, that he 
was wrong in not paying it at- 
tention. And in this particular 
case, at least, logic had been 
wrong and his feeling — his hunch, 
his premonition, his intuition, 
call it what you would — had 
been right. 

He had wondered, he remem- 
bered, if there might not be a 
certain sense which would out- 
weigh logic and reason, if within 
his brain a man might not have 
another ability, a divining facul- 
ty, which would outdate the old 
tools of logic and of reason. 

Maybe that was the sense 
that told him, without reason, 
without logic, that he must get 
back the top. 



T HE street had been blocked 
to traffic and the police were 
standing by, although there was 
little need of them, it seemed, 
for the crowd was orderly. The 
car lay in the middle of the 
street, battered and dented, with 
its wheels sticking into the air. 
like a dead cow in a cornfield. 
Its glass was shattered and strew- 
ed about the pavement, crunch- 
ing under the feet of the milling 
crowd. Its tires were knocked off 
and the wheels were bent and 
people stood around and stared 
at it. 

Vickers mingled with the 
crowd, moving nearer to the car. 
The front door, he saw, had 
somehow been smashed open and 
was wedged against the pave- 
ment. There was just a chance, 
he told himself, that the top 
might still be there. 

If it was, he would have -to 
figure out some way to get it. 
Maybe he could get down on his 
knees and pretend he was simply 
curious about the instrument 
panel or the controls. He’d tell 
his neighbors about how the con- 
trol panel differed from that of 
an ordinary car and maybe he 
could hook in a hand and sneak 
out the top and hide it under- 
neath his coat without any of 
them knowing. 

He shuffled about the wreck, 



114 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



gaping at it in what he hoped 
was an idly curious fashion as 
he talked a little with his neigh- 
bors, the usual banal comments 
of the onlooker. 

He worked his way around un- 
til he was beside the door and 
squatted down and looked inside 
the car and he couldn’t see the 
top. He stayed there, squatting 
and looking, craning his neck, 
and he told his nearest neighbor 
about the control panel and won- 
dered about the shift, though all 
the time he was looking for the 
top. 

But there wasn’t any top. 

He got up again and milled 
with the crowd, watching the 
pavement, because the top might 
have fallen from the car and roll- 
ed away from it. Maybe it had 
rolled into the gutter and was 
lying there. He searched the gut- 
ters on both sides of the streets, 
and covered the pavement, but 
there was no top. 

So the tdp was gone — gone be- 
fore he could try it out, and now 
he’d never know if it could take 
him into fairyland. 

Twice he had gone into fairy- 
land — once when he was a child 
and again when he had walked 
a certain valley with a girl 
named Kathleen Preston. He had 
walked with her in an enchanted 
valley that could have been 
nothing else but another fairy- 
land, and after that he had gone 



back to see her and had been told 
that she had gone away, and he 
had turned from the door and 
trudged across the porch. 

“Now wait!” he said. Had he 
turned from the door and trudg- 
ed across the porch? 

H E tried to remember and, 
dimly, he saw it all again, 
the soft-voiced man who had told 
him that Kathleen was gone and 
then had said, "But won’t you 
come in, lad? I have something 
you should see.” 

He had gone in and stood in 
the mighty hall, filled with heavy 
shadow, with its paintings on the 
wall and the massive stairs 
winding up to the other stories 
and the man had said — 

What had he said? 

Or had it ever happened? 
Why did an experience like 
this, an incident that he should 
have remembered without fail, 
come back to him after all the 
years of not knowing, as the lost 
memory of his boyhood venture 
into fairyland had come back to 
him after so long? 

And was it true or wasn’t it? 
There was no way that he 
could judge. 

He turned away and walked 
down the street, past the police- 
man who leaned against a build- 
ing and swung his club, smiling 
at the crowd. 

In a vacant lot, a group of 

115 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



boys were playing and he stopped 
to watch them. Once he had 
played like that, without thought 
of time or destiny, with the 
thought of nothing but happy 
hours of sunshine and the delight 
that bubbled up with living, for 
the day always ran on forever. 

There was one little fellow who 
sat apart from all the others. He 
held something in his lap and 
was turning it around, admiring 
it, happy in the possession of a 
wondrous toy. 

Suddenly he tossed it in the 
air and caught it and the sun 
flashed on its many colors. Vick- 
ers, seeing what it was, skipped 
a breath or two. 

It was the missing top! 

He left the sidewalk and saun- 
tered across the lot. 

The playing boys did not no- 
tice him or, rather, they ignored 
him, after the manner of the 
playing youngster for whom the 
adult does not exist, or is no 
more than a shadowy personage 
out of some unreal and unsatis- 
factory world. 

Vickers stood above the boy 
who held the top. 

“Hello, son.” 

“Hello yourself.” 

“What you got?” 

“I found it,” said the boy. 
“It’s a pretty thing,” said Vick- 
ers. “I’d like to buy it from you.” 
“It ain’t for sale.” 

“I’d pay quite a bit,” said 



Vickers, feeling desperate. 

The boy looked up with in- 
terest. 

“Enough for a new bicycle?” 

Vickers dug into his pocket 
and pulled out folded bills. 

“Gosh, mister . . 

Out of the corner of his eye, 
Vickers saw the policeman stand- 
ing on the sidewalk, watching 
him. The policeman took a step, 
started across the lot. 

“Here,” said Vickers. 

He grabbed the top and tossed 
the folded bills into the boy’s lap. 
He straightened and ran, heading 
for the alley. 

“Hey, you!” the policeman 
shouted. 

Vickers kept on running. 

A gun exploded and Vickers 
heard the thin, high whine of a 
bullet going high over his head. 

R eaching the first of the 
buildings in the alley, Vick- 
ers ducked around it, into a pas- 
sageway between two buildings 
and realized that he’d turned in 
the wrong direction. The pas- 
sageway would lead him back to 
the street on which lay the wreck- 
ed and battered car. 

He saw an open basement win- 
dow, gauged his distance and 
threw himself feet first through 
the window. The sill caught him 
in the back and he felt the fire 
of pain run along his body. Then 
his head smacked into something 



116 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



and the basement was a place 
of darkness filled with a million 
stars. He came down sprawling 
and the wind was knocked out 
of him and the top, flying from 
his hand, bounced along the floor. 

He clawed himself to his hands 
and knees and grabbed the top. 
He found a water pipe, grasped 
it and pulled himself erect. There 
was a raw place on his back that 
burned and his head buzzed with 
the violence of the blow. But he 
was safe, at least for a little 
while. 

He found stairs and climbed 
them and saw that he was in the 
back room of a hardware store. 
The place was filled with hap- 
hazardly piled rolls of chicken 
wire, rolls of roofing paper, card- 
board cartons, bales of binder 
twine, lengths of stove pipe, crat- 
ed stoves, coils of manila rope. 

He could hear people moving 
around up in front, but there was 
no one in sight. He ducked be- 
hind a crated stove and from the 
window above his head, a splash 
of sun came down, so that 
he crouched in a pool of light. 

Outside, in the alleyway, he 
heard running feet go past and 
from far away he heard men 
shouting. He hunched down, 
pressing his body against the 
rough board crating of the stove 
and tried to control his labored 
breathing, afraid that anyone 
coming into the room might hear 



his rasping breath. 

He’d have to figure out some 
way to get away. If he stayed 
where he was, they finally would 
find him. They would start comb- 
ing the area, police and citizen 
alike. And, by that time, they 
would know who it was they 
hunted. The boy would tell them 
he found the top lying near the 
car and someone then might re- 
member seeing him park the car 
and the waitress in the restaurant 
might tell them how he stayed 
while the others raced outside. 
From many little bits of informa- 
tion, they would know their fugi- 
tive was the man whose Forever 
car they’d smashed. 

He wondered what would hap- 
pen to him when they found him, 
but he knew well enough, re- 
membering the bulletin from St. 
Malo, about the man hanging 
from the lamp post with a pla- 
card on his chest. 

But there was no way to es- 
cape. He couldn’t sneak out into 
the alley, for they’d be watching 
for him. He could go back into 
the basement, but that wasn’t 
any better than where he was. 
He could saunter into the store 
and act like a customer, finally 
walk out to the street, doing his 
best to look like an ordinary 
citizen who had dropped into the 
place to look at some gun or tool. 
But he doubted that he could 
carry it off. 



RING AROU ND THE SUN 



117 



So the illogic hadn’t paid off, 
after all. Logic and reason were 
still the winners. There was no 
escape from this sunlit refuge be- 
hind the crated stove. 

There was no escape, unless — 
He had found the top again. 
He had it there with him. 

There was no escape — unless 
the top should work. 

H E put the top’s point on the 
floor and slowly pumped the 
handle. It picked up speed. He 
let go and it spun, whistling. He 
knelt in front of it and watched 
the colored stripes. He saw them 
come into being and he followed 
them into infinity and he won- 
dered where they went. He forced 
his attention on the top, narrow- 
ing it down until the top was all 
he saw. 

It didn’t work. The top wob- 
bled and he put out a hand and 
stopped it. 

He tried again. 

He had to be an eight-year- 
old. He must clear away his 
mind, sweep out all adult 
thoughts, all adult worry, all so- 
phistication. He must become a 
child. 

He thought of playing in the 
sand, of napping under trees, of 
the feel of soft grass beneath bare 
feet. He closed his eyes and con- 
centrated and caught the vision 
and the color and the smell of it. 
He opened his eyes and watch- 



ed the stripes and filled his mind 
with wonder, with the question 
of their being and where they 
went when they disappeared. 

It didn’t work. 

The top wobbled and he stop- 
ped it. 

A frantic thought wedged its 
way into his consciousness. He 
didn’t have much time. He had 
to hurry. 

He pushed the thought away. 

A child had no conception of 
time. He was a little boy and he 
had all the time there was and 
he owned a brand-new top. 

He spun it again. 

He knew the comfort of a 
home and loved parents and the 
playthings scattered on the floor 
and the story books that Grand- 
ma would read to him when she 
came visiting again. And he 
watched the top with a simple, 
childish wonder — watching the 
stripes come up and disappear, 
come up and disappear, come up 
and disappear — 

TTE fell a foot or so and thump- 
ed upon the ground and he 
was sitting atop a hill. The land 
stretched out before him for 
miles and miles and miles, an 
empty land of waving grass and 
groves of trees and far-off, wind- 
ing water. 

He looked down at his feet and 
the top was there, slowly spinning 
to a wobbling halt. 



118 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



XXIX 

N EW and empty of any mark 
of Man, the land was raw 
of earth and sky. Even the wild- 
ness of the wind that swept across 
it seemed to say that the land 
was untamed. 

From his hilltop, Vickers saw 
bands of dark, moving shapes 
that he felt sure were small herds 
of buffalo. Even as he watched 
three wolves came loping up the 
slope, saw him and veered off, 
angling down the hill. In the blue 
sweep of sky that arched from 
horizon to horizon without a 
single cloud, a bird wheeled 
gracefully, spying out the land. 
It screeched and the screech 
came down to Vickers as a high, 
thin sound filtered through the 
sky. 

The top had brought him 
through. He was safe in this 
empty land with wolves and buf- 
falo. 

He climbed to the ridgetop and 
looked across the reaches of the 
grassland, with its frequent groves 
and many watercourses, spark- 
ling in the sun. There was no 
sign of human habitation — no 
roads, no threads of smoke sift- 
ing up to the sky. 

He looked at the sun and won- 
dered which way was west and 
thought he knew, and if he was 
right, the sun said it was mid- 
morning. But if he was w^ong, it 



was afternoon and in a few hours 
darkness would come upon the 
land. And when darkness came, 
he would have to figure out how 
to spend the night. 

He had meant to go into fairy- 
land. If he had stopped to think 
about it, he told himself, he 
would have known that it would 
not be, for the place he had gone 
to as a child could not have been 
fairyland. This was a new and 
empty.world, lonely and perhaps 
dangerous, but it was better than 
the back room of a hardware 
store in some unknown town 
with his fellow men hunting him 
to death. 

He sat down and emptied his 
pockets and made an inventory 
of what he had. A half a package 
of cigarettes; three packs of 
matches, one almost finished, one 
full, one with just a match or 
two gone from it; a pocket knife; 
a handkerchief; a billfold with 
some bills in it; a few cents in 
change; the key to the Forever 
car; a ring with the keys to the 
house and another to his desk 
and a couple of other keys he 
couldn’t identify; a mechanical 
pencil; a few half sheets of paper 
folded together, pocket size, on 
• which he had intended to make 
notes if he saw anything worth 
noting — and that was all. Fire 
and a tool with a cutting edge 
and paper money less useful than 
the blank paper and worthless 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



119 



bits of metal. 

If this world was empty, he 
must feed himself and defend 
himself and find shelter and, in 
time to come, contrive some way 
in which to clothe himself. 

He lit a cigarette and tried to 
think, but all he could think 
about was that he must go easy 
on the cigarettes, for the half 
pack was all he had and when 
those were gone, there would be 
no more. 

An alien land — but not entire- 



and buffalo were the same as old 
Earth had borne. Perhaps it was 
Earth. It looked for all the world 
as the primal Earth might have 
looked before Man had stripped 
and gutted it and torn all its 
treasures from it. 

I T was no alien land — no alien 
dimension into which the top 
had flung him, although, of 




course, the top hadn’t had any- 
thing to do with it. It was simply 
something on which one focused 
one’s attention, a hypnotic de- 
vice to aid the mind in the job 



ly alien, for it was Earth again, 
the old familiar Earth unscarred 
by the tools of Man. It had the 
air of Earth and the grass and 
sky of Earth, and even the wolves 



120 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 




which it must do. The top had 
helped him come into this land, 
but it had been his mind and 
that strange otherness that was 



his which had enabled him to 
travel from old familiar Earth to 
this strange, primal world. 

There was something he had 
heard or read. 

He went searching for it, dig- 
ging back into his brain with 
frantic mental fingers. 

A news story? Something he 
had heard? Or something he had 
seen on television? 

It came to him finally — the 
article about the man in Boston 
— a Dr. Aldridge, he seemed to re- 
member who had said that there 
might be more worlds than one, 
that there might be an Earth a 
second ahead of ours and one a 
second behind ours and another 
a second behind that and still 
another and another and another, 



a long string of worlds whirling 
one behind the other, like men 
walking in the snow, one man 
putting his foot into the other’s 
track and the one behind him 
putting his foot in the same track 
and so on down the line. 

A ring around the Sun. 

He hadn’t finished feading the 
story, he recalled, for something 
had distracted him and he’d laid 
the paper aside. He wished he 
hadn’t. For Aldridge might have 
been right. 

This might be the next world 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



121 



after the old, familiar Earth. 

He tried to puzzle out the logic 
of why there should be a ring 
of worlds around the Sun, but 
he gave it up, for he had no idea. 

Say, then, that this was Earth 
No. 2, the next earth behind the 
original Earth which he had left 
behind. Say that in topographical 
features the earths would resem- 
ble one another, not exactly like 
one another, perhaps, but very 
close in their topography, with 
tittle differences here and there, 
each magnified in turn until 
probably a matter of ten earths 
back, the change would become 
noticeable. But this was only the 
second earth and its features 
might be but little changed and 
on old Earth he had been some- 
where in Illinois and this was 
the kind of land that ancient 
Illinois would have been. 

He had gone into fairyland and 
there had been a garden and a 
house in a grove of trees and 
maybe this was the very earth 
he had visited when he was a 
boy of eight. And in later years 
he had walked an enchanted val- 
ley and it, too, might have been 
this earth, and if that was true, 
then there was a Preston house 
exactly like the one which stood 
so proudly in the Earth of his 
childhood. 

He knew there was little reason 
to believe there’d be a Preston 
house, little reason to think any- 



thing other than that he was 
trapped in an empty, lonely 
world. But he shut his mind to 
reason, for the hope that there 
was a Preston house was the only 
hope there was. 

He checked the Sun and saw 
that it had climbed higher in the 
sky, and that meant that it was 
morning and not afternoon, and 
by that he knew which way was 
west. 

He set off, striding down the 
hill, heading toward the one hope 
he had in all this strange new 
world. 

XXX 

W ELL before dark, he picked 
a camping site, a grove 
through which ran a stream. 

He took off his shirt and tied 
it to a stick to form a crude 
seine, then went down to a small 
pool in the creek and after some 
experimenting found how to use 
the seine to the best advantage. 
At the end of an hour, he had 
five good-sized fish. 

He cleaned the fish with his 
pocket knife and lit the fire with 
a single match and congratulated 
himself upon his woodsmanship. 

He cooked one of the fish and 
ate it. It was not an easy thing 
to eat, for he had no salt and 
the cooking was very far from 
expert — part of the fish was 
charred by flame and the rest 



122 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



was raw. But he was ravenous 
and it didn’t taste too bad until 
the edge was off his hunger. After 
that it was a hard job choking 
down the rest, but he forced him- 
self to do it, for he knew that he 
faced hard days ahead and to get 
through them he must keep his 
belly filled. 

By this time, darkness had fall- 
en and he huddled beside the 
fire. He tried to think, but he was 
too tired for thinking. He caught 
himself dozing as he sat. 

He slept, awoke to find the 
fire almost out and the night 
still black, built up the fire while 
cold sweat broke out on him. The 
fire was for protection as well as 
warmth and cooking and on the 
day’s march he had seen not only 
wolves, but bear as well, and 
once a large tawny shape moving 
too fast for him to make out 
what it was, except that it looked 
fiercely feline. 

He woke again and dawn was 
in the sky! He built up the fire 
and cooked the rest of the fish, 
ate one and part of another, 
tucked the others, messy as they 
were, into his pocket. He would 
need food throughout the day, 
and he did not want to waste the 
time or matches to make a fire. 

He hunted around the grove 
and found a stout, straight stick. 
It would serve him for a walking 
staff and might be of some use as 
a club if he were called upon to 



defend himself. He checked his 
pockets to see that he was leav- 
ing nothing behind. He had his 
pocket knife and the matches 
and they were the important 
things. He wrapped the matches 
carefully in his handkerchief, 
then put them in his undershirt. 
He needed those matches, for he 
doubted very seriously that he 
could make fire with flint or 
sticks. 

He was off before the Sun was 
up, slogging northwestward, but 
going more slowly than the day 
before, for now he realized that 
it was not speed but stamina that 
counted. To wear himself out in 
these first few days of hiking 
would be suicidal. 

TTE lost some time making a 
wide detour in the afternoon 
around a fair-sized herd of buf- 
falo. He camped that night in 
another grove, having stopped an 
hour or so earlier beside a stream 
to catch another supply of fish 
with his shirt-and-staff seine. In 
the grove he found a few bushes 
of dewberries, with some fruit 
still on them, so he had dessert 
as well as fish. 

The Sun came up and he 
moved on again. 

And another day came up and 
he went on. And another and 
another. 

He caught fish. He picked ber- 
ries. He found a deer that had 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



123 



been freshly killed, no doubt by 
some animal that his appear- 
ance had scared off. Hacking 
away with his pocket knife, he 
cut as many ragged hunks of 
venison as he could carry. Even 
without salt, the meat was a wel- 
come change from fish. He even 
learned to eat a little of it raw, 
hacking off a mouthful and chew- 
ing it methodically as he walked 
along. He had to discard the last 
of the meat when it got so high 
that he couldn’t live with it. 

He lost track of time. He had 
no idea of how many miles he 
had covered, nor how far he 
might be from the place where 
he was heading, nor even if he 
could find it at all. 

His shoes broke open and he 
stuffed them with dried grass and 
bound them together with strips 
cut off his trouser legs. 

One day he knelt to drink at 
a pool and in the glass- clear 
water saw a strange face staring 
back, at him. With a shock he 
realized that it was his own face, 
that of a bearded man, ragged 
and dirty and with the lines of 
fatigue upon him. 

The days came and went. He 
moved ahead, northwestward. He 
kept putting first one foot out 
and then the other. The Sun 
burned him at first and the burn 
turned to a tan. He crossed a 
wide, deep river on a log. It took 
a long time to get across and 



once the log almost spun and 
spilled him, but he made it. 

He walked through an empty 
land, with no sign of habitation, 
although it was a land that was 
well suited for human occupa- 
tion. The soil was rich and the 
grass grew tall and thick, and 
the trees, which sprang skyward 
from groves along the water- 
courses, were straight and tow- 
ered high into the sky. 

Then one day, just before sun- 
set, he topped a rise and saw the 
land sweeping downward toward 
the distant ribbon of a river that 
he thought he recognized. 

It was not the river which held 
his attention, but the flash of set- 
ting Sun on a large area of metal 
far away. 

He put up his hand and shield- 
ed his eyes against the sunlight 
and tried to make out what it 
was, but it was too remote and it 
shone too brightly. 

Climbing down the slope, not 
knowing whether to be glad or 
frightened, Vickers kept a close 
watch on the gleam of far-off 
metal. • At times he lost sight of 
it when he dipped into the swales, 
but it was always there when 
he topped the rise again, so he 
knew that it was real. 

Finally he was able to make 
out metallic buildings glinting in 
the Sun, and now he saw that 
strange shapes came and went in 
the air above them and that there 



124 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



was a stir of life around them. 

But it was not a city or a 
town. For one thing, it was too 
metallic. And for another, there 
were no roads leading into it. 

A S he came nearer, he made 
out more and more of the 
detail of the place. When he was 
only a mile or two away, he 
stopped and looked at it and 
knew whai it was. 

It was not a city, but a factory, 
a giant, sprawling factory and to 
it came, continually, the strange 
flying things that probably were 
planes, but looked more like fly- 
ing boxcars. Most of them came 
from the north and west and 
they came flying low, not too fast, 
to land in an area behind a 
screen of buildings that stood be- 
tween him and the landing field. 

And the creatures that moved 
about among the buildings were 
not men — or did not seem to be 
men, but something else, metallic 
things that flashed in the last 
rays of the Sun. 

All about the buildings, stand- 
ing on great towers, were cup- 
shaped discs many feet across 
and all the faces of the discs 
were turned toward the Sun and 
the faces of the discs glowed as 
if there were fires inside them. 

He walked slowly toward the 
buildings and realized for the 
first time the sheer vastness of 
them. They covered acre after 

RING AROUND THE SUN 



acre and they towered many stor- 
ies high and the things that ran 
among them on their strange and 
many errands were not men, nor 
anything like men, but self-pro- 
pellecf machines. 

Some of the machines he could 
identify, but most of them he 
couldn’t. He saw a carrying ma- 
chine rush past with a load of 
lumber clutched within its belly 
and a great crane lumber by at 
thirty miles an hour with its steel 
jaws swinging. But there were 
others that looked like mechanis- 
tic nightmares and all of them 
went scurrying about in a terrific 
hurry. 

He found a street, or, if not 
a street, an open space between 
two buildings, and went along it, 
keeping close to the side of one, 
for it would have been inviting 
death to walk down the center, 
where the machines were racing 
around. 

He came to an opening in the 
building, from which a ramp led 
out to the street, and he cautious- 
ly climbed the ramp and looked 
inside. The interior was lighted, 
although he could not see where 
the light came from, and he 
looked down long avenues of ma- 
chinery, busily at work. But there 
was no noise — that, he knew now, 
was what had bothered him. 
Here was a factory and it was 
utterly silent except for the sound 
of metal on the earth as the self- 

125 



propelled machines flashed, along 
the street. 

He left the ramp and went 
down the street, hugging the 
building, and came out on the 
edge of the airfield where 
the aerial boxcars were landing 
and taking off. 

He watched the machines land 
and disgorge their freight, great 
piles of shining, newly sawed 
lumber, which were at once 
snatched up by the carrying ma- 
chines and hustled off in all di- 
rections. Great gouts of raw ore, 
more than likely iron, were 
dumped into the maw of other 
carrying machines that looked, 
or so Vickers thought, like so 
many pelicans. 

Once the boxcar had unloaded 
it took off again — took off with- 
out a single sound, as if a wind 
had seized and wafted it into the 
upper air. 

The flying things came in end- 
less streams, disgorging their end- 
less round of cargo, which was 
taken care of almost immediate- 
ly. Nothing was left piled up. By 
the time the machine had lifted 
into the air, the cargo it had car- 
ried had been rushed off some- 
where. 

Their operation was not auto- 
matic, for to have been auto- 
matic, each operation must have 
been performed at a certain place 
and at a regular time, and each 
ship did not land in exactly the 



same place, nor was the time of 
their arrival spaced regularly. 
But each time a ship landed, the 
appropriate carrying machine 
would be on hand to take charge 
of the cargo. 

L IKE intelligent beings, Vickers 
thought, and even as he 
thought of it, he knew that 
that was exactly what they were 
— robots, each designed to take 
care of its own particular task. 
Not the manlike robots of one’s 
imagination, but practical ma- 
chines with intelligence and pur- 
pose. 

The Sun had set and as he 
stood at the corner of the build- 
ing, he looked up at the towers 
which had faced it. The discs 
atop the towers were slowly turn- 
ing back toward the east, so that 
when the Sun came up next 
morning, they would be facing it. 

Solar power, thought Vickers — 
where else had he heard of solar 
power? Why, in the mutant-pro- 
duced houses, the dapper little 
salesman had explained to Ann 
and him how, when you had a 
solar plant, you could dispense 
with public utilities. 

And here again was solar 
power. Here, too, were friction- 
less machines that ran without 
the faintest noise, like the For- 
ever car that would not wear 
out, but would last through many 
generations. 



126 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



The machines paid no attention 
to him. It was as if they did not 
see him, did not suspect that he 
was there. Not one of them fal- 
tered as they rushed past him, 
not a single one had moved out 
of its way to give him a wider 
berth. Nor had any made a 
threatening motion toward him. 

With the going of the Sun, the 
area was lighted, but once again 
he could not determine the source 
of the light. The fall of night did 
not halt the work. The flying box- 
cars, great, angular, boxlike con- 
traptions, still came flying in, 
unloaded and flew off again. The 
machines kept up their scurry- 
ing. The. long lines of machines 
within the buildings continued 
their soundless labor. 

The flying boxcars, he won- 
dered, were they robots, too? 
And the answer seemed to be 
that they probably were. 

He edged his way onto the 
platform and looked at some of 
the crates closely, trying to de- 
termine what it was they held, 
but the only designations on 
them were stenciled code letters 
and numerals. He thought of 
prying some of them open, but 
he had no tools to do it, and he 
was just a bit afraid to do it, for 
while the machines continued to 
pay no attention to him, they 
might pay disastrous attention 
if he interfered. 

Hours later, he came out on 

RING AROUND THE SUN 



the other side of the sprawling 
factory area and walked away 
from it, then turned back and 
looked at it and saw it glowing 
with its strange light and sensed 
the bustle of it. 

He looked back at the factory 
and wondered what was made 
there and thought that he could 
guess. Probably razor blades and 
lighters and maybe light bulbs 
and perhaps the houses and the 
Forever cars. Maybe all of them. 

For this, he felt certain, was 
the factory — or at least one of 
the factories — that Crawford and 
North American Research had 
been looking for and had failed 
to find. 

No wonder, he thought, that 
they failed to find it. 

XXXI 

"STICKERS came to the river 
* late in the afternoon, a river 
filled with tree-covered, grape- 
vined islands, clogged with sand- 
bars and filled with wicked gur- 
gling and the hiss of shifting 
sands. He was sure it could be 
no other stream than the Wis- 
consin, flowing through its lower 
reaches to join the Mississippi. 
And if that were so, he knew 
where he was going. 

Now he feared that in this 
land there was no Preston house. 
Rather, he had fallen upon a 
strange land where there were no 

127 



men, only a complex robotic civ- 
ilization in which Man played no 
part. There were no men con- 
nected with the factory, he was 
sure, for the place had been too 
self-sufficient to need the hand or 
the brain of Man. 

He camped on the river’s 
shore, and sat for a long time 
before he went to sleep, staring 
out over the’ silvered miiror of 
the moonlit water, feeling the 
loneliness strike into him, a 
deeper, more bitter loneliness 
than he’d ever known before. 

When morning came, he’d go 
on; he’d tread the trail to its 
dusty end. He’d find the place 
where the Preston house should 
stand and when he found that 
there was no house — what would 
he do then? 

He did not think about that. 
He did not want to think about 
it. He finally went to slejep. 

In the morning he went down 
the river and studied the bluff- 
studded southern shore and was 
more sure than ever that he knew 
where he was. 

He followed the river down 
and finally saw the misty blue of 
the great rock-faced bluff that 
rose at the junction of the rivers 
and the thin violet line of the 
cliffs beyond the greater river, 
so he climbed the nearest one 
and spied out the valley he had 
hunted. 

He camped that night in the 



valley and the next morning fol- 
lowed it and found the other 
branching valley that should lead 
to the Preston house. 

He was halfway up it before 
it became familiar, although he 
had seeen rock formations that 
seemed to bear some similarity 
to ones he had seen before. 

The suspicion and the hope 
grew in him, and at last the cer- 
tainty, that, here once again 
was the enchanted valley he had 
traveled twenty years before! 

And now, he thought — now if 
the house is there. 

He felt faint and sick at the 
certainty that it would not be 
there, that he would reach the 
valley’s head and see where it 
should have been, but wasn’t. 
For if that happened, he was an 
exile from Earth. He wouldn’t 
know how to get back. 

H E found the path and fol- 
lowed it and he saw the wind 
blow across the meadow grass so 
that it seemed as if the grass 
were water and the whiteness of 
its wind-blown stems were white- 
caps rolling on it. He saw the 
clumps of crab-apple trees and 
they were not in bloom because 
the season was too late, but they 
were the same nevertheless. 

The path turned around the 
shoulder of a hill. Vickers stop- 
ped and looked at the house 
standing on the hill. He felt his 



128 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



knees go wobbly beneath him 
and he looked away quickly, then 
brought his eyes back to make 
sure it was not imagination, that 
the house was really there. 

It really was. 

He started up the path and dis- 
covered that he was running and 
forced himself down to a rapid 
walk. And then he was running 
again and he didn’t try to stop. 

He reached the hill that led 
up to the house and he went 
more slowly now, trying to re- 
gain his breath, and he thought 
what a sight he was, with weeks 
of beard upon his face, with his 
clothing ripped and tom and 
matted with the dirt and filth of 
travel, with his shoes falling to 
shreds, tied upon his feet with 
strips of cloth from his trouser 
legs, with his frayed trousers 
blowing in the wind, showing 
dirt-streaked knees. 

He came to the white picket 
fence and stopped beside the 
gate and leaned upon it, looking 
at the house. It was exactly as 
he had remembered it, neat, well- 
kept, with the lawn trimmed and 
flowers growing brightly, the 
woodwork newly painted and the 
brick a mellow color attesting to 
years of Sun upon it and the 
force of wind and rain. 

“Kathleen,” he said, and he 
couldn’t say the name too well, 
for his lips were parched and 
rough. “I’ve come back again.” 

RING AROUND THE SUN 



He wondered what she’d look 
like, after all these years. He 
must not, he warned himself, ex- 
pect to see the girl he once had 
known, the girl of seventeen or 
eighteen, but a woman near his 
own age. 

She would see him standing at 
the gate and even with the beard 
and the tattered clothes and the 
weeks of travel on him, she would 
know him and would open the 
door and come down the walk to 
greet him. 

The door opened and the Sun 
was in his eyes so that he could 
not see her until she’d stepped 
out on the porch. 

“Kathleen,” he said. 

But it wasn’t Kathleen. 

It was someone he’d never seen 
before — a man who had on almost 
no clothes at all and who glit- 
tered as he walked down the path 
and who said to Vickers, “Sir, 
what can I do for you?” 

XXXII 

T HERE was something about 
the glitter of the man, some- 
thing about the way he walked 
and the way he talked that didn’t 
feel right. He had no hair, for 
one thing, either on his head or 
on his chest. His eyes were fun- 
ny, too. They glittered like the 
rest of him and he seemed to 
have no lips. 

“I’m a robot, sir,” he explained, 

129 



seeing Vickers’ puzzlement. 

“Oh,” said Vickers. 

1 “My name is Hezekiah.” 

“How are you, Hezekiah?" 
Vickers asked inanely, not know- 
ing what else to say. 

“I’m all right,” replied Heze- 
kiah. “I am always all right. 
There is nothing to go wrong 
with me. But thank you for ask- 
ing, sir.” 

“I had hoped to find someone 
here.” said Vickers. “A Miss 
Kathleen Preston. Does she hap- 
pen to be home?” 

He watched the robot’s eyes 
and there was no answer in them. 

The robot asked, “Won’t you 
come in, sir’ and wait?” 

“Why, certainly,” said Vickers. 
The robot held the gate open 
for him and he came through, 
walking on the path of mellowed 
brick, and he noticed how tidy 
the house was. The windows 
sparkled with the cleanliness of 
a recent washing and the shutters 
hung true and straight and the 
trim was painted and the lawn 
looked as if it had not been only 
mowed, but razored. Gay beds of 
flowers bloomed without a single 
weed and the picket fence march- 
ed its eternal guard around the 
house straight as wooden soldiers 
and painted gleaming white. 

The robot went up the steps 
to the little porch that opened 
on the side entrance and pushed 
the door open for Vickers. 



“To your right, sir,” Hezekiah 
said. “Take a chair and wait. 
If there is anything you wish, 
there is a bell upon the table.” 

“Thank you, Hezekiah,” said 
Vickers. 

The room was large. It was 
gaily papered and had a small 
marble fireplace wfth a mirror 
over the mantle and there was a 
sort of official hush, as if the 
place might be an antechamber 
for important conferences. 

Vickers took a chair and 
waited. 

What had he expected? Kath- 
leen bursting from the house and 
running down the steps to meet 
him, happy after twenty years 
of never hearing from him? He 
shook his head. It didn’t work 
that way. It wasn’t logical that 
it should. 

But there were other things 
that were not logical, either, and 
they had worked out. It had not 
been logical that he should find 
this house in this other world, 
and still he had found it and now 
sat beneath its roof and waited. 
It had not been logical that he 
should find the top he had not 
remembered and, finding it, know 
what to use it for. But he had 
found it and he had used it and 
was here. 

H E sat quietly, listening to 
the house. 

There was a murmur of voices 



130 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



in the room that opened off the 
waiting room and he saw that 
the door which led into it was 
open an inch or two. 

There was no other sound. 
The house lay in morning quiet. 

He got up from his chair and 
paced to the window and from 
the window back to the marble 
fireplace. 

Who was in that other room? 
Why was he waiting? Whom 
would he see when he walked 
through that door and what 
would they say to him? 

He stopped beside the door, 
standing with his back against 
the wall, holding his breath to 
listen. 

IT^HE murmur of voices became 
words. 

. . going to be a shock.” 

A deep, gruff voice said, “It 
always is a shock. There’s noth- 
ing you can do to take the shock 
away. No matter how you look 
at it, it always is degrading.” 

A slow, drawling voice said, 
“It’s unfortunate that we have 
to work it the way we do. It’s 
too bad we can’t let them go on 
in their rightful bodies.” 

Businesslike; clipped, precise, 
the first voice said, “Most of 
the androids take it fairly well. 
Even knowing what it means, 
they take it fairly well. We make 
them understand. And, of course, 
out of the three, there’s always 



the lucky one, the one that can 
go on in his actual body.” 

“I have a feeling,” said the 
gruff voice, “that we started in 
on Vickers just a bit too soon.” 
“Flanders said we had to. He 
thinks Vickers is the only one 
who can handle Crawford.” 

And Flanders’ voice saying, "I 
am sure he can. He was a late 
starter, but he was coming fast. 
We gave it to him hard. First 
the bug got careless and he 
caught it and that set him to 
thinking. Then, after that, we 
arranged the lynching threat. 
Then he found the top we planted 
and the association clicked. Give 
him just another jolt or two . . .” 
“How about the girl, Flanders? 
That — what’s her name?” 

“Ann Carter,” Flanders said. 
“We’ve been jolting her a bit. but 
not as hard as Vickers.” 

“How will they take it?” asked 
the drawling voice, “when they 
find they’re android?” 

Vickers lurched away from the 
door, groping with his hands, as 
if he were walking in the dark 
through a room filled with furni- 
ture. 

Used, he thought. 

Not even human. 

“Dynn you, Flanders!” he 
said. “Damn you for a smirking 
heel!” 

Not only he, but Ann — they 
were both androids. 

He had to get away, he told 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



131 



himself. He had to find a place 
where he could hide and let his 
mind calm down and plan what 
he meant to do. 

For he was going to do some- 
thing. It wasn’t going to stay this 
way. He’d deal himself a hand 
and cut in on the game. 

He moved along the hall and 
reached the door and opened it 
a crack to see if anyone was there. 
The lawn was empty. There was 
no one in sight. 

He went out the door and 
closed it gently behind him and 
when he hit the ground, jumping 
from the tiny porch, he was run- 
ning. He went over the fence. 

He didn’t look back until he 
reached the trees. When he did, 
the house stood serenely, majes- 
tically, on its hilltop at the val- 
ley’s head. 

XXXIII 

S O he was an android, an arti- 
ficial man, a body made out 
of a handful of chemicals and 
the cunning of Man’s mind and 
the wizardry of Man’s technique 
— but ordinary, normal men had 
no such cunning and no such 
technique. The mutants did. 
They could make an artificial 
man and make him so well and 
cleverly that even he, himself, 
would never know for sure. And 
artificial women, too — like Ann 
Carter. 



The mutants could make an- 
droids and robots and Forever 
cars and everlasting , razor blades 
and a host of other gadgets, all 
designed to wreck the race from 
which they sprang. They had 
synthesized the carbohydrate as 
food and the protein to make the 
bodies of their androids, and 
they knew how to travel from 
one earth to another — all those 
earths that ringed the Sun. This 
much he knew they could do and 
were doing. What other things 
they might be doing, he had no 
idea. Nor any idea, either, of the 
things they dreamed or planned. 

“You’re a mutant,” Crawford 
had told him. “You’re one^, of 
them.” For Crawford had a ma- 
chine that could pry into the 
mind and tell its owner what 
was in that mind, but the ma- 
chine was stupid in the last anal- 
ysis, for it couldn’t even tell a 
real man from a fake. 

No mutant, but a mutant’s er- 
rand boy. Not even a man, only 
an artificial copy. 

How many others, he won- 
dered, could there be like him? 
How many of his kind were 
trailed and watched by Craw- 
ford’s men, unaware that they did 
not trail and watch the mutant, 
but a thing of mutant manufac- 
ture? That, thought Vickers, was 
the true measure of the difference 
between the normal man and mu- 
tant — the normal man could mis- 



132 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



take the mutant’s scarecrow for 
the mutant. 

The mutants made a man and 
turned him loose and watched 
him and allowed him to develop 
and set a spying mechanism that 
they called a bug to watch him, 
a little mechanical mouse that 
could be smashed with a paper- 
weight. 

And in the proper time they 
jolted him — jolted him for what? 
They stirred up his fellow towns- 
men so he fled a lynching party ; 
they planned for him to find a 
toy out of childhood and waited 
to see if the toy might not trip 
a childhood association; they 
fixed it so he would drive a For- 
ever car when they knew that 
driving such a car could cause 
him to be mobbed. 

And after they had jolted an 
android, what happened to him 
then? 

What became of the androids 
once they had been used for the 
purpose of their making? 

He had told Crawford that 
when he knew what was going 
on, he’d talk to him again. And 
now he knew something of what 
was going on and Crawford 
might be very interested. 

He walked on through the 
woods, with its massive trees and 
its deep-laid forest mold and 
thick matting of old leaves, with 
its mosses and its flowers and its 
strange silence filled with uncar- 

RING AROUND THE SUN 



ing and with comfort. 

He had to find Ann Carter. He 
had to tell her. Together, the 
two of them would somehow 
stand against it. 

He halted beside the great oak 
tree and stared up at its leaves 
and tried to clear his mind, to 
wipe it clean of the chaos of his 
thinking so he could start fresh 
again. 

There were two things that 
stood out above all others: 

He had to get back to the par- 
ent Earth. 

He had to find Ann Carter. 

XXXIV 

TTE did not see the man until 
the voice startled him into 
turning. 

“Good morning, stranger,” said 
the man, standing just a few 
feet away, a great, tall, strong 
man dressed much as a farm 
hand or a factory worker, but 
with a jaunty, peaked cap and 
a brilliant feather stuck into it. 

Despite the rudeness of his 
clothing, there was nothing of 
the peasant about the man, but 
a cheerful self-sufficiency that 
reminded Vickers of someone he’d 
read about and he tried to think 
who it might be, and he thought 
of Robin Hood. 

Across the man’s shoulder was 
a strap that held a quiver full 
of arrows and in his hand he held 

133 



a bow. Two young rabbits hung 
lifeless from his belt and the 
blood dripping from them had 
smeared his trouser leg. 

“Good morning,” said Vickers, 
shortly. 

He didn’t like the idea of this 
man popping up from nowhere. 

“You’re another one of them,” 
the man said. 

“Another one of what?” 



The man laughed. “We get one 
of you every once in a while. 
Someone who has blundered 
thrpugh and doesn’t know where 
he is. I’ve often wondered what 
happened to them before we 
were settled here or what happens 
to them when they pop through 
a long way from any settlement.” 
“I don’t know what you’re 
talking about.” 




134 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



“Another thing you don’t 
know,” said the man, “is where 
you are.” 

“I have a theory,” Vickers re- 
torted. “This is a second earth.” 
“You got it pegged pretty 
close. You’re better than most of 
them. They just flounder around 
and gasp and won’t believe it 
when we tell them this is earth 
number two.” 




RING AROUND THE SUN 



“That’s neat,” said Vickers. 
“Earth Number Two, is it? And 
what about Number Three?” 
"It’s there, waiting until we 
need it. Worlds without end, wait- 
ing until we need them. We can 
go on pioneering for generation 
after generation. A new earth for 
each new generation if we have 
to, but they say we won’t be 
needing them that fast.” 

“They?” challenged Vickers. 
“Who are they?” 

"The mutants,” said the man. 
“The local ones live in the Big 
House. You didn’t see the Big 
House?” 

V ICKERS shook his head 
warily. 

“You must have missed it, 
coming up the ridge. A big brick 
place with a white picket fence 
around it and other buildings 
that look like barns, only they 
aren’t barns.” 

“Aren’t they?” 

“No,” said the man. “They 
are laboratories and experimental 
buildings and there is one build- 
ing that is fixed uj!> for listening.” 
“Why do they have a place for 
listening? Seems to me you could 
listen almost anywhere. You and 
I can listen without having a 
special place fixed up for us.” 
“They listen to the stars,” the 
man told him. 

“They listen . . .” began Vick- 
ers, and then remembered Flan- 

135 



ders sitting on the porch in 
Cliffwood, rocking in the chair 
and saying that great pools and 
reservoirs of knowledge existed 
in the stars, that it * was there 
for the taking and you might not 
need rockets to go there and get 
it, but might reach out with your 
mind and that you’d have to sift 
and winnow, but you’d find much 
that you could use. 

“Telepathy?” asked Vickers. 

“That’s it,” said the man. 
“They don’t listen to the stars 
really, but to people who live on 
the planets of the stars. Now 
ain’t that the screwiest thing you 
ever heard of — listening to the 
stars!” 

“Yes, I guess it is.” 

“But they get ideas from these 
people. They don’t talk to them, 

I guess, just listen in on them. 
They catch some of the things 
they’re thinking and some of the 
things they know and a lot of it 
can be used and a lot of it don’t 
make no sense at all. But it’s the 
truth, so help me, mister.” 

“My name is Vickers. Jay 
Vickers.” 

“Well, I’m glad to know you, 
Mr. Vickers. My name is Asa 
Andrews.” 

He held out his hand and 
Vickers took it and his grip was 
hard and sure. 

And now. he knew that this was 
no Robin Hood. Here before him 
stood an American pioneer, thd' 



man who carried the long rifle 
from the colonies to the hunting 
grounds of Kentucky. Here were 
the alert stance, the indepen- 
dence, the quick good will and 
wit, the steady self-reliance. 
Here, once again, in the forests 
of Earth No. 2, was another pio- 
neer type, sturdy and indepen- 
dent and a good man for a friend. 

“These mutants must be the 
people who are putting out the 
everlasting razor and all that 
other stuff in the gadget shops,” 
said Vickers. 

“You catch on quick,” said 
Andrews. “We’ll go up to the 
Big House in a day or two and 
you can talk to them.” 

H E shifted the bow from one 
hand to another. “Look. 
Vickers, did you leave someone 
back there? A wife and some kids, 
maybe?” 

“No one,” said Vickers. “Not 
a single soul:” 

“If you had, we’d have gone up 
to the Big House right away and 
told them about it and they 
would have fixed it up to bring 
the wife and kids through, too. 
That’s the only thing about this 
place — once you get here, there’s 
no going back. Although why 
anyone would want to go back 
is more than I can figure out. 
So far as I know, no one has 
wanted to.” 

He looked Vickers up and 



136 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



down, laughter tugging at his 
mouth. 

“You look all gaunted down,” 
he said. “You ain’t been eating 
good.” 

“Just fish and some venison I 
found. And berries.” 

“The old lady will have the 
victuals on. We’ll get some food 
into you and those whiskers off 
and I’ll have the kids heat up 
some water and you can take a 
bath, and then we can sit and 
talk. We got a lot to talk about.” 

He led the way, with Vickers 
following, down the ridge through 
the heavy timber. 

They came out on the edge of 
a cleared field green with growing 
corn. 

“That’s my place down there,” 
said Andrews. “Down at the hol- 
low’s head. You can see the 
smoke.” 

“Nice field of corn you have,” 
Vickers said. 

“Knee-high by the Fourth. 
And over there is Jake Smith’s 
place. You can see the house if 
you look a little close. And just 
beyond the hogsback are John 
Simmon’s fields. There are other 
neighbors, but you can’t see from 
here.” 

They climbed the barbed wire 
fence and went across the field, 
walking between the corn rows. 

“It’s different here,” said An- 
drews, “than back on Earth. I 
was working in a factory there 



and living in a place that you 
wouldn’t keep animals in. Then 
the factory shut down and there 
was no money. I went to the car- 
bohydrates people and they kept 
the family fed. Then the land- 
lord threw us out. The carbohy- 
drates people had been so friend- 
ly that I went to them and told 
them what had happened. They 
were the only ones I knew of 
that I could turn to. After a day 
or two, one of them came around 
and told us about this place — 
except, of course, he didn’t tell 
us what it really was. He said 
it was a brand-new territory 
that was opening up and there 
was free land for the taking and 
help to get you on your feet and 
that I could make a living 
and have a house instead of a 
two-by-four apartment in a stink- 
ing tenement and I said that we 
would go. He warned me that if 
we went, we couldn’t come back 
again and I asked him who would 
want to?” 

“You’ve never regretted it?” 
asked Vickers. 

“It was the luckiest thing that 
ever happened to us. Fresh air 
for the kids and all you want 
to eat and a place to live with 
no landlord to throw you out. 
No dues to pay and no taxes to 
scrape up. Just like in the his- 
tory books.” 

“The history books?” 

“When America was opened 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



137 



up and the pioneers piled in. 
Land for the taking. More land 
than anyone can use, so rich you 
just scratch the ground a little 
and throw in some seed and you 
got a crop. Land to plant things 
in and wood to burn and build 
with and you can walk out at 
night and the sky is full of stars 
and the air is so clean it seems 
to hurt your nose when you draw 
it in.” 

A NDREWS turned and looked 
at Vickers, his eyes hard. 

‘‘It was the best thing that 
ever happened to me,” he said, as 
if daring Vickers to contradict 
him. 

‘‘But these mutants,” said 
Vickers. ‘‘Don’t they get into your 
hair? Don’t they lord it over 
you?” 

‘‘They don’t do anything but 
help us. They send us a robot to 
help out with the work when we 
need to have some help and they 
send a robot that lives with us 
nine months of the year to teach 
the kids. One robot teacher for 
each family. Now ain’t that some- 
thing? Your own private teacher, 
just like you went out and hired 
yourself a high-toned private tu- 
. tor like the rich folks back on 
Earth.” 

‘‘And you don’t resent these 
mutants? You don’t hate them 
because they knoW more than 
you do?” 



“Mister,” said Asa Andrews, 
“you don’t want to let anyone 
around these parts hear you talk- 
ing like that. When we first came, 
they explained it all to us. They 
had indoct — indoctrin — ” 
“Indoctrination courses.” 
“That’s it. They told us what 
the score was. They explained 
the rules. There aren’t many.” 
“Like not having any fire- 
arms,” said Vickers. 

“That’s one of them. How did 
you know that?” 

“You’re hunting with a bow.” 
“Another one is that if you get 
into a row with anybody and 
can’t settle it peaceable, the two 
of you go up to the Big House 
and let them settle it. And if you 
get sick, you’re to let them know 
right away so they can send you 
a doctor and whatever else you 
need. The rules work to your 
benefit.” 

“How about work?” 

“Work?” 

“You have to earn some 
money, don’t you?” 

“Not yet,” said Andrews. “The 
mutants give us everything we 
want or need. All we do is grow 
the food. This is whst they call — 
what was that word? — this is 
what they call the pastoral-feu- 
dal stage. You ever hear a word 
like that?” 

“But they must have factor- 
ies,” Vickers persisted, ignoring 
the question. “Places where they 



138 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



make the razor hlades and stuff. 
They’d need men to work in 
them.” 

“They use robots. Just lately 
they started making a car that 
can last forever. The plant is 
just a distance from here. But 
they use robots to do the entire 
job. You know what a robot is.” 

“Yes, I know,” said Vickers. 

They climbed the fence that 
edged the corn field and walked 
across a pasture toward the 
house. 

Someone yelled a joyous greet- 
ing and a half a dozen kids came 
running down the hill, followed 
by yelping dogs. A woman came 
to the door of the house, built of 
peeled logs. She waved to them 
and Andrews waved back and 
then the kids and dogs descended 
on them in a yelping, howling, 
happy pack. 

XXXV 

V ICKERS lay 'in bed, in the 
loft above the kitchen, and 
listened to the wind pattering on 
bare feet across the shingles just 
above his head. He turned and 
burrowed his head into the goose- 
down pillow and beneath him the 
corn -shuck mattress rustled in 
the dark. 

He was clean, washed clean in 
the tub behind the house*, with 
water heated in a kettle on an 
outdoor fire, lathering himself 

RING AROUND THE SUN 



with soap while Andrews sat on a 
nearby stump and talked and 
the children played in the yard 
and the dogs lay sleeping in the 
Sun, twitching their hides to 
chase away the flies. 

He had eaten, two full meals 
of food such as he had forgotten 
could exist after days of half- 
cooked fish and half-rotten veni- 
son — cornbread and sorghum and 
young rabbits fried in a smoking 
skillet, with creamed new pota- 
toes and greens the children had 
gone out and gathered and a 
salad of watercress pulled from 
the spring below the house and 
for supper fresh eggs just taken 
from the nest. 

He had shaved, with the chil- 
dren ringed around him watch- 
ing, after Andrews had seated 
him on a stump and had used the 
scissors to trim away the beard. 

And after that he and Andrews 
had sat on the steps and talked. 
Andrews had said that he knew 
of a place that was crying for a 
house — a tucked-in place just 
across the hill, with a spring a 
step or two away and some level 
ground on a bench above the 
creek where a man could lay out 
his fields. There was wood in 
plenty for the house, great, tall 
trees, and Andrews said that he 
would help him cut them. When 
the logs were ready, the neigh- 
bors would come in for the rais- 
ing and Jake would bring along 

139 



some of the corn that he’d been 
cooking and Ben would bring his 
fiddle and they’d have themselves 
a hoedown when the house was 
up. If they needed help beyond 
what the neighbors could supply, 
all they’d have to do was send 
word up to the Big House and 
the mutants would send a gang 
of robots. But that probably 
wouldn’t be necessary, Andrews 
had said. The neighbors were a 
willing lot and always ready to 
help; glad, too, to see another 
family moving in. 

Once the house was built, said 
Andrews, Simmons had some 
daughters that Vickers might 
want to have a look at, although 
you could do your picking blind 
if you wanted to, for they were a 
likely lot. Andrews had dug Vick- 
ers in the ribs with his elbow 
and had laughed uproariously 
and Jean, Andrews’ wife, who 
had come out to sit with them a 
while, had smiled shyly at him 
and then had turned to watch 
the children playing in the yard. 

After supper, Andrews had 
showed him with some pride the 
books on the shelf in the living 
room and had said that he was 
reading them, something he had 
never done before — something he 
had never wanted to do before, 
nor had the time to do. Vickers, 
looking at the books, had found 
Homer and Shakespeare, Mon- 
taigne and Austen, Thoreau and 



Steinbeck. 

“You mean you’re reading 
these?” he asked. 

Andrews had nodded. “Read- 
ing them and liking them, mostly. 
Once in a while I find it a little 
hard to wade through them, but 
I keep at it. Jean likes Austen 
best.” 

It was a good life here, said 
Andrews, the best life they’d ever 
known and Jean smiled her 
agreement and the kids had lost 
an argument about letting the 
dogs come in and sleep the night 
with them. 

H ERE again was the American 
frontier, but idealized and 
bookish, with all the frontier’s 
advantages and none of its terror 
and its hardship. Here was a 
paternal feudalism, the Big 
House on the hill serving as the 
castle that looked down across 
the fields where happy people 
took their living from the soil. 
Here was a time*for resting and 
for gathering strength. And here 
was peace. No talk of war, no 
taxes to fight a war, or to pre- 
vent a war by a proved willing- 
ness to fight. 

Here was — what had Andrews 
said? — the pastoral-feudal stage. 
And after that came what stage? 
The pastoral -feudal stage for 
resting and thinking, for getting 
thoughts in order, for establish- 
ing once again the bond between 



140 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



Man and soil, the stage in which 
was prepared the way for the 
development of a culture that 
would be better than the one they 
had left. 

This was one earth of many 
earths. How many others? Hun- 
dreds, thousands, millions? Earth 
following earth, and now all the 
earths lay open. 

He tried to figure it out and 
he thought he saw the pattern 
that the mutants planned. It was 
simple and it was brutal, but it 
was workable. 

There was an Earth that was 
a failure. Somewhere, on the path 
that led up from apedom, they 
had taken the wrong turning and 
had traveled since that day a 
long road of misery. There was 
brilliance in these people, and 
goodness, and ability — but they 
had poured their brilliance and 
their ability into channels of hate 
and arrogance and their goodness 
had been buried in selfishness. 

They were worth the saving, 
as a drunkard or a criminal is 
worthy of rehabilitation. But to 
save them, you must get them 
' out of the neighborhood they 
live in, out of the slums of human 
thought and method. 

To do this, you must break 
the world they live in and you 
must have a plan to break it and 
after it is broken, you must have 
a program that leads to a better 
world. 

R I NG AROU N D THE SUN 



But first of all, there must be 
a plan of action. 

F IRST you shattered the eco- 
nomic systems on which old 
Earth was built. You shattered 
it with Forever cars and everlast- 
ing razor blades and with syn- 
thetic carbohydrates that would 
feed the hungry. You destroyed 
industry by producing things 
that industry could not dupli- 
cate and when you shattered in- 
dustry, war was impossible and 
half the job was done. 

But then you left people with- 
out jobs, so you fed them with 
carbohydrates while you tried to 
ferry them to the following earths 
that lay waiting for them. If 
there wasn’t room enough on 
Earth No. 2, you sent some of 
them to No. 3 and maybe No. 4, 
so that you had no crowding, so 
there was room enough for all. 
On the new earths there was a 
beginning again, a chance to 
dodge the errors and skirt the 
dangers that had bathed Old 
Earth in blood for countless cen- 
turies. 

On these new earths you could 
build any sort of culture that 
you wished. You could even 
experiment, aim at one culture 
on Earth No. 2 and a slightly 
different one on No. 3 and yet a 
different one on No. 4. And after 
a thousand years or so, you could 
compare these cultures and see 

141 



which one was best and consult 
the bales of data you had kept 
and pinpoint each mistake in 
each particular culture. In time 
you could arrive at a formula for 
the best in human cultures. 

Here on this earth, the pas- 
toral-feudal culture was only the 
first step. It v*as a resting place 
for education and for settling 
down. Things would change or 
be changed. The son of the man 
in whose house he lay would 
build a better house and prob- 
ably would have robots to work 
his fields, while he himself would 
live a leisured life. Out of a lei- 
sured people, with their energies 
channeled by good leadership, 
would come paradise on Earth — 
or on many earths. 

There had been that article in 
the paper he had read on that 
morning — was it only days ago? 
— which had said that the au- 
thorities were alarmed at mass 
disappearances. While families 
were dropping out of sight for 
no apparent reason and with 
nothing in common except ab- 
ject poverty. And, of course, it 
would be the very poor who 
would be taken first — the home- 
less and the jobless and the sick 
— to be settled on these earths 
that followed in the track of the 
dark and bloody world inhabited 
by Man. 

Soon there would be little more 
than a handful of people on the 



dark and bloody Earth. Soon, 
in a thousand years or less, it 
would go tumbling on its way 
alone, its hide cleansed of the 
ravening tribe which had eaten at 
it and mangled it and ravished it. 
This same tribe would be estab- 
lished on other earths, under bet- 
ter guidance, to create for them- 
selves a better life. 

Beautiful — and yet there was 
this matter of the. androids. 

B EGIN at the beginning, he 
told himself. Start with first 
facts, try to see the logic of it, 
to figure out the course of mu- 
tation. 

There ’ always had been mu- 
tants. If'there had not been, Man 
would still be a little skittering 
creatufe hiding in the jungle. 

There had been the mutation 
of the opposable thumb. There 
had been mutations within the 
little brain that made for crea- 
ture cunning. Some mutation, 
unrecorded, had captured fire 
and tamed it. Another mutation 
had evolved the wheel. Still an- 
other had invented the bow and 
arrow. And so it went, on do wri- 
the ages, mutation on mutation, 
building the ladder that man- 
kind climbed. 

Except that the creature who 
had captured and tamed the 
flame did not know he was a 
mutant. And neither had the 
tribesman who had thought up 



142 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



the wheel, nor the bow and ar- 
row experimenter. 

Down through the ages there 
had been unsuspected and un- 
suspecting mutants — men who 
were successful beyond the suc- 
cess of others, great business 
figures or great statesmen, great 
writers, great scientists and ar- 
tists, men who stood so far above 
the herd of their fellow men that 
they had seemed like giants in 
comparison. 

Perhaps not all of them were 
mutants, but some of them would 
have been. But their mutancy 
would have been a crippled thing 
in comparison with what it could 
have been, for they were forced 
to conform to the social and 
economic pattern set by a non- 
mutant society. That they had 
been able to conform, to fit them- 
selves to a smaller measure than 
their normal stature, that they 
had been able to get along with 
men who were less than they and 
still stand out as men of tower- 
ing ability was in itself a 
measure of their mutancy. 

Although their success had been 
large in the terms of normal 
men, their mutancy had been a 
failure in that it never reached 
its full realization and this was 
because these men had never 
known that they were mutants. 
They had been just a little 
smarter or a little handier or 
somewhat quicker than the com- 

R IN G AROUND THE SUN 



mon run of mankind. 

But suppose that a man should 
know from a piece of indisputa- 
ble evidence that he was a mu- 
tant what would happen then? 

Suppose, for example, a man 
should find that he could reach 
out to the stars and that he 
could catch the thoughts and 
plans of the thinking creatures 
who lived on planets circling 
those far suns — that would be 
full and sufficient proof that he 
was a mutant. And if he could 
obtain from his seeking in the 
stars some specific information 
of certain economic value — say, 
the principle of a frictionless ma- 
chine — then without question he 
would know that he had a mu- 
tant gift. Once knowing that he 
was a mutant, he would not be 
able to fit so snugly, nor so 
smugly, into his contemporary 
niche as those men who had been 
mutants, but had never known 
they were. Knowing that he was 
a mutant, he would have the 
itch of greatness, would know 
the necessity of following his 
own path and not the beaten 
path. 

H E might be slightly terrified 
by the things he learned win- 
nowing the stars and he might 
be terribly lonesome and he 
might see the necessity of other 
humans than he alone working 
on the information that he was 

143 



dredging from the depths of 
space. 

So he would seek for other 
mutants and he would do it 
cleverly and it might take him 
a long time before he found one 
of them and he would have to 
approach the other mutant cau- 
tiously and win his confidence 
and finally tell him what he had 
in mind. Then there’d be two 
mutants, banded together, and 
they would seek other mutants. 
Not all of them would be able 
to send their minds out to the 
stars, but they would be able to 
do other things. Some of them 
would understand electronics, al- 
most as if by instinct, more com- 
pletely than any normal man, 
even with years of intensive 
training, and another might sense 
the strange alignment of time and 
space that allowed for other 
worlds than one, circling the Sun 
like a cosmic ring of planets. 

Some of the mutants would be 
women and to the mutants found 
would be added mutants born, 
and eventually there would be a 
mutant organization of several 
hundred persons, pooling their 
talents. 

From the information they 
gathered from the stars, plus the 
mutant abilities of certain others 
of them, they would invent and 
market certain gadgets that would 
bring in the necessary money for 
them to continue with their work. 



How many of the now common, 
workaday, almost prosaic gad- 
gets used in the world today, 
Vickers wondered, were the prod- 
ucts of this mutant race? 

But the time would come when 
the mutant organization and the 
work they did would become too 
challenging to pass unnoticed 
and the mutants would seek a 
place to hide — a safe place where 
they could continue the work 
that they were doing. And what 
safer place could there be than 
one of those other earths? 

V ICKERS lay on the corn- 
shuck mattress and stared 
into the darkness and wondered 
at the glibness of his imagination, 
with the nagging feeling that it 
was not imagination — that it was 
something that he knew. But 
how could he know it? 

Conditioning, perhaps, of his 
android mind. Or an actual 
knowledge gained in some period 
of his life that had been blotted 
out, as the time he had gone into 
fairyland at the age of eight had 
been — a knowledge that now was 
coming back again, as the re- 
membrance of the visit to fairy- 
land had finally returned. 

Or ancestral memory, perhaps, 
actual specific memory passed to 
child from parent as instinct was 
passed — but the catch was that, 
as an android, he didn’t have a 
parent. 



144 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



He was parentless and raceless 
and a mockery of a man, created 
for a purpose he did not even 
know. 

What purpose could the mu- 
tants have for him? What talent 
did he possess that made him 
useful to them? 

That was the thing that hurt — 
that he should be used for some 
purpose which he did not know, 
that Ann should have some pur- 
pose she did not even guess. 

The work of the mutants was 
more important than mere gad- 
getry, something greater than 
Forever cars and everlasting razor 
blades and synthetic carbohy- 
drates. Their work was the rescue 
and the re-establishment of the 
race— the starting over again of 
a badly muddled humanity. It 
was the development of a world 
or worlds where war would not 
be merely outlawed, but impos- 
sible, where fear would never 
raise its head, where progress 
would have a different value than 
it had in mankind’s world today. 

And into a program of this 
sort, where did Jay Vickers fit? 

The mutants would take from 
the human race the deadly play- 
things and keep those playthings 
in trust until the child of Man 
was old enough to use them with- 
out hurting himself or injuring 
his neighbor. They would take 
from the three - year - old the 
twelve-year-old toy he was using 



dangerously and when he was 
twelve years old would give it 
back again, probably with re- 
finements. 

And the culture of the future, 
under mutant guidance, would 
be not merely a mechanistic cul- 
ture, but a social and an economic 
and an artistic and spiritual cul- 
ture as well. The mutants would 
take lopsided Man and mold him 
into balance and the years that 
were lost in the remolding would 
pay interest in humanity in the 
years to come. 

But that was speculation; that 
was getting nothing done. The 
thing that counted now was what 
he. Jay Vickers, android, meant 
to do about it. What was the 
role that he was to play? 

Before he did anything about 
it, he needed information and he 
couldn’t get it here, lying on a 
corn-shuck mattress in the loft 
above the kitchen of a neo- 
pioneer home. 

There was only one place 
where he could get that informa- 
tion. 

He slid noiselessly out of bed 
and fumbled in the dark to find 
his ragged clothes. 

XXXVI 

TPHE house was dark, sleeping 
-*■ in the moonlight, with the 
tall shadows of the trees cast 
against its front. He stood in the 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



145 



shadow just outside the front gate 
and looked at it, remembering 
how he had seen it in the moon- 
light once before, when a road 
ran past the gate, but now there 
was no road. He recalled how 
the glow had fallen on the white- 
ness of the pillars and had turn- 
ed them to ghostly beauty and 
of the words the two of them had 
said as they stood and watched 
the moonlight shattered on the 
pillars. 

But that was dead and done. 
All that was left was the bitter- 
ness of knowing that he was not 
a man, but the imitation of a 
man. 

TTE opened the gate, went up 
the walk and climbed the 
steps that led to the porch. He 
crossed the porch and his foot- 
steps rang so loudly in the still- 
ness that he felt certain those in 
the house would hear him. 

He found the bell and put his 
thumb upon it and pressed, then 
stood waiting, as he had waited 
once before. But this time there 
would be no Kathleen to come 
to the door to greet him. 

He waited and a light sprang 
into life in the central hall and 
through the glass he saw a man- 
like figure fumbling at the door. 
The door came open and he 
stepped inside and the gleaming 
robot bowed a little stiffly and 
said, “Good evening, sir.” 



“Hezekiah, I presume,” said 
Vickers. 

“Hezekiah, sir,” the robot con- 
firmed. “You met me this morn- 
ing.” 

“I went for a walk.’’ 

“And now perhaps I could 
show you to your room.” 

The robot turned and went up 
the winding staircase, with Vick- 
ers following him. 

“It’s a nice night, sir,” the 
robot said. 

“Very nice.” 

“You have eaten, sir?” 

“Yes, thank you.” 

“I could bring you up a snack,” 
Hezekiah offered. “I believe there 
is some chicken left.” 

“No,” said Vickers. “Thank 
you just the same.” 

Hezekiah shoved open a door 
and turned on a light, then step- 
ped aside making room for Vick- 
ers to go in. 

“Perhaps,” said Hezekiah, “you 
Would like a nightcap.” 

“That’s a good idea. Scotch, 
if you have it handy.” 

“In just a moment, sir. You 
will find some pajamas in the 
third drawer from the top. They 
may be a little large, but proba- 
bly you can manage.” 

He found the pajamas and 
they were fairly new and very 
loud and they seemed quite a bit 
too big, but they were better 
than nothing and Vickers laid 
them out. 



46 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



^T'HE room was pleasant, with 
a huge bed covered by a white, 
stitched counterpane and the 
white curtains at the windows 
blew in on the* night breeze. 

He sat down in a chair to wait 
for Hezekiah and the drink and 
for the first time in many days 
he knew how tired he was. He’d 
have the drink and climb into 
bed and when morning came he’d 
go stomping down the stairs, 
looking for a showdown. 

The door opened and he turn- 
ed to take the drink from Heze- 
kiah. 

It wasn’t Hezekiah; it was 
Horton Flanders, in a crimson 
dressing robe fastened tight about 
his neck, and slippers on his feet 
that slapped against the floor as 
he crossed the room. 

He sat down in another chair 
and looked at Vickers, with a 
half smile on his face. 

“So you came back,” he sbid. 

“I came back to listen,” Vick- 
ers told him. “You can start 
talking right away.” 

“That’s why I got up. As soon 
as Hezekiah told me you had 
arrived, I knew you’d want to 
talk.” 

“I don’t want to talk,” said 
Vickers. “I want to listen.” 

“Yes, certainly. I am the orle 
to do the talking.” 

“And not about the reservoirs 
of knowledge, of which you ser- 
monize most beautifully, but 



specific practical, rather mun- 
dane things.” 

“Like what?” 

“Like why I am an android 
and why Ann Carter is, also. 
And whether there ever was a 
person named Kathleen Preston 
or is that just a story that was 
conditioned in my mind? And if 
there actually , was a Kathleen 
Preston, where is she now? And, 
finally, where do I fit in and 
now that I’m here what do you 
intend to do?” 

T^LANDERS nodded his head. 

“A very admirable set of 
questions. You would pick the 
ones I can’t answer.” 

“I came to tell you that the 
mutants are being hunted down 
and killed on that other world, 
that the gadget shops are being 
wrecked and burned, that the 
normal humans' are finally fight- 
ing back. I came to warn you 
because I thought I was a mu- 
tant, too . . 

“You are a mutant. I can as-, 
sure you, Vickers, you’re a very 
special kind of mutant.” 

“A mutant android.” 

“You are difficult,” said Flan- 
ders. “You let your bitterness — ” 
“Of course I’m bitter,” Vickers 
cut in. “Who wouldn’t be? All 
my life I believed I was a man 
and now I find I’m not.” 

“You fool! You don’t know 
what you are!” 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



147 



H EZEKIAH rapped on the 
door and came in with a 
tray. He set it on a table and 
Vickers saw that there were two 
glasses and some mix and an ice 
bucket and a fifth of liquor. 

“Now,” said Flanders, happily, 
“perhaps we can talk some sense. 

I don’t know what it is about 
the stuff, but put a drink into a 
man’s hand and you tend to 
civilize him.” 

He reached into the pocket of 
his robe, brought out a pack of 
cigarettes and passed them to 
Vickers. Vickers took the pack 
and saw that his hand was shak- 
ing a little as he pulled out a 
smoke. He hadn’t realized until 
then just how keyed-up he was. 

Flanders snapped the lighter 
and held out the flame. Vickers 
got his light. 

“That’s good,” he said. “I ran 
out of smokes after the fourth 
day.” 

He sat in the chair, smoking, 
thinking how good the tobacco 
tasted, feeling the satisfaction 
run along his nerves. He watched 
Hezekiah busy with the drinks. 

“I eavesdropped this morning,” 
Vickers said. “I came here and 
Hezekiah let me in. I listened 
when you and some others were 
talking in the room.” 

“I know you did,” said Flan- 
ders. 

“How much of that was 
staged?” 



“All of it,” said Flanders, 
blithely. “Every blessed word of 
it.” 

“You wanted me to know I 
was an android?” 

“We wanted you to know.” 
“You set the mouse on me?” 
“We had to do something to 
shake you out of your humdrum 
life. And the mouse served a 
special purpose.” 

“It tattled on me.” 

“Oh, exceedingly well. The 
mouse was a most efficient tat- 
tler.” 

“The thing that really burns 
me,” Vickers said, “is that busi- 
ness about making Cliffwood 
think I had done you in.” 

“We had to get you out of 
there and headed back to your 
childhood haunts.” 

“How did you know where 
I’d go?” 

F LANDERS said, “My friend, 
have you ever thought about 
the ability of hunch? I don’t 
mean the feeble hunch that is 
used on the racetrack to pick a 
winner or the hunch about 
whether it is going to rain or 
not, but the ability in the fullness 
of its concept. You might say it 
is the instinctive ability to assess 
the result of a given number of 
factors, to know, without actually 
thinking the matter out, what is 
about to happen. 

“It’s almost like being able to 



148 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



peek into the future.” 

“Yes,” said Vickers, “I have 
thought about it. A good deal in 
the last few days, as a matter of 
fact.” 

"You have speculated on it?” 
“To some extent. But what 
has . . .” 

“Perhaps," said Flanders, “you 
have speculated that it might be 
a human ability that we never 
developed, that we scarcely knew 
was there and so never bothered 
with, or that it might be one of 
those abilities that it takes a long 
time to develop, a sort of an ace- 
in-the-hole ability for mankind’s 
use when he was ready for it or 
might have need of it.” 

“I did think that, or at least 
some of it, but . . .” 

“Now’s the time we need it,” 
Flanders interrupted again. “And 
that answers the question that 
you asked. We hunched you 
would go back.” 

“At first I thought Crawford 
was the one, but he said he 
wasn’t.” 

Flanders shook his head. 
"Crawford wouldn’t have done 
it. He needs you too badly. Your 
hunch on that one wasn’t work- 
ing too hot.” 

“No, I guess it wasn’t.” 

“Your hunches don’t work,” 
said Flanders, "because you don’t 
give them a chance. You still 
have the world of reason to con- 
tend with. You put your reliance 



on the old machinelike reasoning 
that the human race has relied 
on since it left the caves. You 
figure out every angle and you 
balance it against every other 
angle and you add up and cancel 
out as if you were doing a prob- 
lem in arithmetic. You never 
give hunch a chance. That’s the 
trouble with you.” 

A ND that was the trouble, 
Vickers thought. He'd had 
a hunch to spin the top on the 
porch of the Preston house. If 
he had done that, he’d have 
saved himself days of walking 
through the wilderness of this 
second world to get to this same 
spot. He’d had a hunch that he 
should have paid attention to 
Crawford’s note and not driven 
the Forever car. If he’d done 
that, he’d have saved himself a 
lot of trouble. And there had 
been the hunch, which he had 
finally obeyed, that he must get 
back the top — and that one had 
paid off. 

“How much do you know?” 
asked Flanders. 

“I don’t really know,” Vickers 
admitted. “I know there’s a mu- 
tant organization that had some- 
thing to do with kicking the 
human race out of the rut you 
talked about, that night back in 
Cliffwood. And the organization 
has gone underground because 
its operations were getting too 



RING AROUND T H E SUN 



149 






widespread and too significant 
to escape attention. You’ve got 
factories working, turning out the 
mutant gadgets you’re using to 
wreck the economy of the old 
world. I saw one of those. Tell 
me, do the robots run it or . . .’’ 
Flanders chuckled. “The robots 
run it. We just tell them what 
we want.” 



“Then there’s this business of 
listening to the stars.” 

“We’ve gotten many good 
ideas that way,” said Flanders. 
“Not all of us can do it. Just 
some of us who are natural tele- 
paths. And as I told you that 
night we talked, not all the ideas 
are ones that we can use. Some- 
times we just get a hint of some- 




150 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



thing and we go on from there.” 
“And where are you headed? 
Where do you intend to go?” 
“That’s one that I can’t an- 
swer. There are new possibilities 
being added all the time, new 
directions opening out. We’re 
close to many great discoveries. 
For one thing, immortality. 
There is one listener . . 

"You mean,” asked Vickers, 
“everlasting life?” 

“Why not?” 

O F course, thought Vickers, 
why not? If you had ever- 
lasting razor blades and ever- 
lasting light bulbs, why not 
everlasting , life? 

“And androids?” Vickers ask- 
ed. “Where would an android 
like myself fit in? Surely, an an- 
droid can’t be too important.” 
“We have a job for you,” said 
Flanders. “Crawford is your 
job.” 

“What do I do with Craw- 
ford?” 

"You stop him.” 

“Stop him? Me? Do you know 
what’s back of Crawford?” 

“I know what’s back of you.” 
“Tell me,” Vickers said. 

“The highest, most developed 
hunch ability that ever has been 
registered in a human being. The 
highest ever registered and the 
most unsuspected, the least used 
of any we have ever known.” 
“Wait a minute. You’re forget- 



ting that I’m not a human being.” 

“Once you were. You will be 
again. Before we took your life 

“Took my life!” 

“The life essence,” said Flan- 
ders, “the mind, the thoughts 
and impressions and reactions 
that made up Jay Vickers — the 
real Jay Vickers — aged eighteen. 
Like pouring water from one ves- 
sel to another. We poured you 
from your body into an android 
body and we’ve kept and guard- 
ed your body against the day we 
can pour it back again.” 

Vickers came half out of his 
chair. 

Flanders waved a hand at him. 
“Sit down. You were going to 
ask me why.” 

“And you’re going to answer 
me," said Vickers. 

“Certainly I will answer you. 
When you were eighteep, you 
were not aware of the ability you 
had. There was no way to make 
you aware of it. It would have 
done no good to tell you or to 
attempt to train you. You had 
to grow into it. We figured it 
would take fifteen years, but it 
took more than twenty and you 
aren’t even yet as aware as you 
should be.” 

“But I could have . . .” 

“Yes,” said Flanders, “you 
could have grown aware of it in 
your own body, except that there 
is another factor — inherent mem- 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



151 



ory. Your genes carry the in- 
herent memory factor, another 
mutation that occurs as infre- 
quently as our telepathic listen- 
ers. Before Jay Vickers started 
fathering children, we wanted 
him to be entirely aware of his 
hunch ability.” 

Vickers remembered how he 
had speculated on the possibility 
of inherent memory, white lying 
on the corn-shuck mattress in 
the loft of Andrews’ house. In- 
herent memory, memory passed 
on from father to son. His father 
had known about inherent mem- 
ory, so he had guessed it, too. 
He had known about it, or at 
least he’d remembered it when 
the time had come for him to 
know about it, when he was 
growing — he groped for the word 
— aware. 

“So that is it,” said Vickers. 
“You want me to put the hunch 
on Crawford and my children 
because they will have hunch, 
too.” 

INLANDERS nodded. “I think 
*■ we understand one another.” 

“Yes,” said Vickers. “I am 
sure we do. First of all, you want 
me to stop Crawford. That is 
quite an order. What if I put a 
price on it?” 

“We have a price. A most at- 
tractive price. I think it will 
interest you.” 

“Try me.” 



“You asked about Kathleen 
Preston. You wanted to know 
if there was such a person and 
I can tell that there is. How old 
were you when you knew her, 
by the way?” 

“Eighteen.” 

Flanders nodded idly. “A very 
fine age to be.” He looked at 
Vickers. “Don’t you agree?" 

“It seemed so then.” 

“You were in love with her.” 
“Of course.” 

“And she was in love with 
you.” 

“I think so,” Vickers said. “I 
can’t be sure, but I think she 
was.” 

“You may be assured that she 
was in love with you.” 

“You will tell me where she 
is?” 

“No,” said Flanders. 

“But you . . .” 

“When your job is done, you’ll 
go back to eighteen again." 

“And that’s the price,” said 
Vickers. “That’s the pay I get. 
To be given back a body that 
was mine to start with. To be 
eighteen again.” 

“It is attractive to you?” 
“Yes, I guess so," Vickers said. 
“But don’t you see, Flanders, 
the dream of eighteen is gone. 
It’s not just the physical eighteen 
— it’s the years ahead and the 
promise of those years and the 
wild, impractical dreaming and 
the love that walks beside you 



152 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



in the spring of life.” 

“Eighteen,” said Flanders. 
"Eighteen and immortality and 
Kathleen Preston, herself seven- 
teen again.” 

“Kathleen?” 

Flanders nodded. 

“Just as it was before,” said 
Vickers. “But it won’t be the 
same, Flanders. Something that 
has slipped away.” 

“Just as it was before,” in- 
sisted Flanders. “As if all these 
years had never been.” 

XXXV 

S O he was a mutant, after all, 
in the guise of android, and 
once he had stopped Crawford, 
he’d be an eighteen-year-old mu- 
tant in love with a seventeen - 
year-old mutant and there was 
just a possibility that, before they 
died, the listener might pin down 
immortality. And if that were 
so, then he and Kathleen would 
walk enchanted valleys forever 
and they’d have mutant children 
and all of them would live a life 
such as the old pagan gods of 
Earth might have looked upon 
with envy. 

He threw back the covers and 
got out of bed and walked to 
the window. Standing there, he 
stated down at the moonlit en- 
chanted valley where he’d walked 
that day of long ago and he saw 
that the valley was an empty 



place and would stay empty no 
matter what he did. 

He had carried the dream for 
more than twenty years and now 
that the dream was coming true, 
he saw that it was tarnished with 
all the time between, that there 
was no going back to that day 
in 1956, that a man never can 
go back to a thing he once has 
left. 

You could not wipe out the 
years of living, pile them neatly 
in a comer and walk away and 
leave them. They could be erased 
from your mind and they would 
be forgotten, but not forever, and 
the day would come when they’d 
break through again. And once 
they’d found you out, you’d 
know that you had lived not one 
lie, but two. 

That was the trouble, you 
couldn’t hide away the past. 

The door creaked open and 
Vickers turned around. 

Hezekiah stood in the door- 
way, the dim light from the land- 
ing sparkling on his metal hide. 

“You cannot sleep?” asked 
Hezekiah. “Perhaps there’s some- 
thing I can do. A sleeping pow- 
der, perhaps, or . . 

“There is something you can 
do,” said Vickers. “There’s a 
record that I want to see.” 

“A record, sir?”. 

“My family record. You must 
have it here somewhere.” 

“In the files, sir. I can get it 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



153 



right away, if you will wait.” 

“And the Preston file as well,” 
added Vickers. “The Preston 
family record.” 

“Yes, sir,” said Hezekiah. “It 
will take a moment.” 

\^ICKERS turned on the light 
" and sat down on the edge 
of the bed and he knew what he 
had to do. 

The enchanted valley was an 
empty place. The moonlight 
shattering on the whiteness of 
the pillar was a memory without 
life or color. The rose-scent upon 
the long- gone night of June had 
blown away with the wind of 
yesteryear. 

“Ann,” he said, “I’ve been a 
fool too long. What about it, 
Ann? We’ve bantered and quar- 
reled and we’ve used the banter- 
ing and the quarreling to cover 
the love that both of us have 
held. If it hadn’t been for me 
and my dreaming of a valley, the 
dream growing cold and my 
never knowing it, we would have 
known long ago the way it was 
with us.” 

They took from us, he thought, 
the birthright that was ours of 
living out our lives in the bodies 
in which we first knew the world. 
They’ve made of us neither man 
nor woman, but something that 
passes for a man and woman 
and we walk through the streets 
of life like shadows flickering 



down the wall. And now they 
would take from us the dignity 
of death and the realization that 
our task was done and they make 
us live a lie — I an android pow- 
ered by the life-force of a man 
that is not myself, and you alive 
with a life that is not your own. 

“To hell with them,” he said. 
“To hell with all this double 
living, with this being a manu- 
factured mutant.” 

He’d go back to Earth and 
find Ann Carter and he’d tell her 
that he loved her, not as one 
loved a moonlight - and - roses 
memory, but as a man and wo- 
man love. Together, they would 
live out what was left to them 
of life. He would write his books 
and she would go on with her 
work and they’d forget, as best 
they could, this matter of the 
mutants. 

He listened to the little mur- 
murings of a house at night, 
unnoticed in the daytime when 
it is filled with human sounds. 
And he thought the record. would 
not tell the tale that he wished 
to know, would not tell all the 
truth that he hoped to find, but 
it would tell him who he’d been 
and sorrtething about that tattered 
farmer and his, wife who had 
been his father and his mother. 

T HE door opened and Heze- 
kiah pattered in, with a folder 
tucked beneath his arm. He 



154 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



handed the folder to Vickers and 
stood to one side, waiting. 

Vickers opened it with trem- 
bling fingers and it was there 
upon the page. 

Vickers, Jay, b. Aug. 5, 1937, 
l.t. June 20, 1956, h.a., t., i.m., 
tat. 

He studied the line and it 
made no sense. 

“Hezekiah.” 

“Yes, sir?” 

“What does all this mean?” 

“To what do you refer, sir?” 

“This line here,” said Vickers, 
pointing. “This l.t. business and 
the rest of it.” 

Hezekiah bent and translated: 
“Jay Vickers, born August 5, 
1937, life transferred June 20, 
1956, hunch ability, time sense, 
inherent memory, latent muta- 
tion. Meaning, sir, that you are 
unaware.” 

‘’Thank you,” said Vickers. 

“A pleasure, sir.” 

He glanced at the line above 
and there he found the names, 
placed on the bracketed lines that 
indicated marriage, from which 
the line bearing his own name 
sprouted. 

Charles Vickers, b. Jan. 10, 
1907, cont. Aug. 8, 1928, aw., t., 
el., i.m., s.a. Feb. 6, 1961. 

Sarah Graham, b. Apr. 16, 
1910, cont. Sept. 12, 1927, aw., 
ind. comm., t., i.m., s.a. Mar. 9, 
1960. 

His parents. Two paragraphs 



of symbols. He tried to make it 
out. 

“Charles Vickers, born January 
10, 1907, continued? No, that 
wouldn’t be right . . 

“Contacted, sir,” said Heze- 
kiah. 

“Contacted August 8, 1928, 
aware, t., el. What’s that?” 

“Time sense and electronics, 
sir.” 

“Time sense?” 

“The other worlds. They are 
a matter of time, you know.” 

“No, I didn’t know. Would 
you explain it, please?”' 

“There is no time,” said Heze- 
kiah. “Not as the normal human 
thinks of time, that is. Not a 
continuous flow of time, but 
brackets of time, one second fol- 
lowing behind the other. Although 
there are no seconds, no such 
things as seconds, no such mea- 
surement, of course.” 

“That’s right,” said Vickers. 
It all came back to him, the 
explanation of those other worlds, 
the following worlds, each one 
encapsulated in a moment of 
time, in some strange and arbi- 
trary division of time, each time 
bracket with its own world, how 
far back, how far ahead, no one 
could know or guess. 

S OMEWHERE inside him, the 
secret trigger had been tripped 
and the inherent memory was 
his, as it always had been his, 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



155 



but hidden in his unawareness, 
as his hunch ability still was. 

There was no time, Hezekiah 
had said. No such thing as time 
in the terms of normal human 
thought. Time was bracketed 
and each of its brackets contained 
a single phase of a universe so 
vastly beyond human compre- 
hension that it brought a man 
up short against the impossibility 
of envisioning it. 

And time itself? Time was 
a never-ending medium that 
stretched into the future and the 
past — except there was no future 
and no past, but an infinite num- 
ber of brackets, extending either 
way, each bracket enclosing its 
single phase of the Universe. 

Back on Man’s original Earth, 
there had been speculation on 
traveling in time, of going back 
into yesterday or forward into 
tomorrow. And now he knew that 
you could not do it, that the 
same instant of time remained 
forever within each bracket, that 
Man’s Earth had ridden the same 
bubble of the single instant from 
the time of its genesis and that 
it would die and come to noth- 
ing within that self-same instant. 

You could travel in time, but 
there would be no yesterday and 
no tomorrow. If you held a cer- 
tain time sense, you could break 
out from one bracket to another, 
and when you did, you would 
not find yesterday or tomorrow. 



but another world. 

And that was what he had done 
when he had spun the top, ex- 
cept, of course, that the top had 
had nothing to do with it. It 
had simply been an aid. 

He went on with the line. 

“What is s.a., Hezekiah?” 

“Suspended animation, sir.” 

“My father and my mother?” 

“Waiting for the day when the 
mutants finally achieve immor- 
tality.” 

“But they died, Hezekiah!” 

“They would have died if they 
had been allowed to live. When 
there is that danger, mutants are 
kept in suspended animation un- 
til immortality becomes possi- 
ble.” 

The room was bright and cold 
and naked with the monstrous 
nakedness of truth. 

His mother and his father 
waited in suspended animation 
for the day they could have im- 
mortality ! 

And he, Jay Vickers, the real 
Jay Vickers, what of him? Not 
suspended animation, certainly, 
for the life was gone from the 
real Jay Vickers and was in this 
android body that sat in this 
room holding the family record 
in two android hands. 

“Kathleen Preston?” Vickers 
asked. 

Hezekiah shook his head. “I 
do not know about her, sir.” 

“But you got the Preston 



156 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



family record!” 

Hezekiah shook his head again. 
“I searched the cross-index, sir. 
There is no Preston mentioned. 
No Preston anywhere.” 

XXXVI 

H E had made a decision and 
now the decision was no 
good — made impossible by the 
memory of two faces. He closed 
his eyes and remembered his 
mother, every feature, a little 
idealized, perhaps, but mainly 
true, and he recalled how she 
had been horrified by his adven- 
ture into fairyland and how Pa 
talked to him and how the top 
had disappeared. 

Of course the top had disap- 
peared. Of course he had been 
lectured about too much imagi- 
nation. After all, they probably 
had a hard enough time keeping 
an eye on him and knowing 
where he was without his wan- 
dering into other worlds. An 
eight-year-old would be hard 
enough to keep track of on one 
world, let alone all the others. 

The memory of his mother’s 
face and of his father’s hand upon 
his shoulder, with the fingers 
digging into his flesh with a man- 
ly tenderness — these were things 
no one could turn his back upon. 

In utter faith they waited, 
knowing that when the blackness 
came upon them, it would not 



be the end, but the beginning of 
an even greater adventure in liv- 
ing than they had hoped when 
they banded themselves with the 
little group of mutants so many 
years before. 

If they held such faith in the 
mutant plan, could his be any 
less? 

Could he refuse to do his part 
toward the establishment of that 
world for which they had done 
so much? 

They themselves had given 
what they could. The labor they 
had expended, the faith they had 
lavished must now be brought 
to realization by the ones they 
had left behind. He was one of 
those — and he knew he could mot 
fail them. 

What kind of world? He 
thought he knew. 

An immortal world that had 
all the factors necessary to make 
immortality workable — endless 
economic living room, endless 
opportunity, endless challenges 
to the best efforts of one’s being. 

Endless living room there was, 
even if one took only Earth into 
account, for there now lay open 
to Man’s possession that endless 
ring around the Sun. 

But there also would be the 
Galaxy, with all its solar sys- 
tems, and each of these solar 
systems would have its following 
worlds as well. Take all the 
planets that there were and mul- 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



157 



tiply them by infinity and you 
got a rough idea. 

Each world would be an op- 
portunity and new techniques 
and new sciences would add to 
opportunity, so that Man, even 
eternal Man, need never fear the 
lack of opportunity or of chal- 
lenge. 

O NCE you had immortality, 
what did you us^ it for? 

You used it to keep up your 
strength. Even if your tribe were 
small, even if the birth rate were 
not large, even if new members 
of the tribe were discovered but 
infrequently, you still would be 
sure of growth if no one ever 
died. 

You used it to conserve ability 
and knowledge. If no one ever 
died, you could count on the 
ultimate strength and knowledge 
and ability of each member of 
the tribe. When a man died, his 
ability died with him and, to 
some extent, his knowledge. Yet 
it wasn’t only that. You lost not 
only his present ability and 
knowledge, but all his future 
ability and knowledge. 

What knowledge, Vickers won- 
dered, did the Earth now lack 
because certain persons died a 
dozen years too soon? Some of 
the knowledge, of course, would 
be recovered through the later 
work of others, but certainly 
there was much that could never 



be recovered, ideas that would 
not be dreamed again, concepts 
that were blotted out forever by 
the death of a brain in which the 
first faint stirring of their de- 
velopment had just begun to 
ferment. 

Within an immortal society, 
such a thing could never happen. 
An immortal society would be 
certain of total ability and total 
knowledge of its manpower. 

Take the ability to tap the 
knowledge of the stars, take in- 
herent memory, the technical 
knowledge that made everlasting 
merchandise and add immor- 
tality. 

That was the formula — of 
what? Of the ultimate in life? 
Of the pinnacle of intellect? Of 
godhood itself? 

Go back a hundred thousand 
years. Consider the creature, 
Man. Give him fire, the wheel, 
the bow and arrow, domesticated 
animals and plants, plus tribal 
organization and the first, faint 
dawning concept of Man as the 
lord of Earth. Take that formula 
and what did you have? 

The beginning of civilization, 
the foundation of a human cul- 
ture. 

The formula of the mutants, 
he knew, was simply another step 
upward as the fire-wheel-dog 
formula of a hundred thousand 
years before had been an earlier 
forward step. 



158 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



1 



The mutant formula was not 
the end result of human effort 
nor of human intellect and know- 
ledge; it was but a step. Within 
the human mind still dwelled the 
possibility of even greater steps, 
but what the concepts of those 
steps might be was as incon- 
ceivable to him as the time 
structure of the following worlds 
would have been to the man who 
discovered fire or tamed the dog. 

YV/'E still are savages, he 
™ thought. We ^till crouch 
within our cave, staring out be- 
yond the smoky fire that guards 
the entrance of our cave against 
the illimitable darkness that lies 
upon the world. 

Someday we’ll plumb that 
darkness, but not yet. 

Immortality would be a tool 
that might help us plumb that 
darkness and that is all it is, a 
simple, ordinary tool. 

What was the darkness out 
beyond the cave’s mouth? 

Man’s ignorance of what he 
was or why he was or how he 



came to be and what his purpose 
and his end. The old, eternal 
questions. 

Perhaps with the tool of im- 
mortality Man could track down 
these questions, could gain an 
understanding of the orderly pro- 
gression and the awful logic 
which fashioned and moved the 
Universe of matter and of energy. 

The next step might be a 
spiritual one, the finding and un- 
derstanding of a divine pattern 
that was law unto the entire 
Universe. Might Man find at last, 
in all humility, a universal God 
— the Deity that men now wor- 
shiped with the faintness of hu- 
man understanding and the 
strength of human faith? Would 
Man find at last the concept of 
divinity that would fill, without 
question and without quibble, 
Man’s terrible need of faith, so 
clear and unmistakable that 
there could be no question and 
no doubt; a concept of goodness 
and of love with which Man 
could so identify himself that 
there would then be no need of 



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used books in addition to the largest variety of new books of this kind in the world. Phone 
meat Floral Pa^k 2-6800, iyou can dial it), and I’ll gladly furnish directions to get here. 

FRANK A. SCHMID 

42 Sherwood Avenue Franklin Square, L. I„ N. Y. 



RING AROUND THE SUN 



159 



faith, but faith replaced with 
knowing and an everlasting sure- 
ness? 

And if Man outlawed death, he 
thought, if the doorway of death 
is closed against the final revela- 
tion and the resurrection, then 
surely Man must find such a 
concept or wander forever amid 
the galaxies a lost and crying 
thing. 

“Hezekiah,” said Jay Vickers, 
‘‘you are sure?” 

“Of what, sir?” 

“About the Prestons. You are 
sure there are none?” 

“Positive, sir. None whatever.” 
“There was a Kathleen Pres- 
ton,” Vickers said. “I am sure 
there was.” 



But how could he be so sure? 

For one thing, he remembered 
her. For another, Flanders said 
there was no such a person. 

But his memory could be con- 
ditioned and so could Flanders’. 

Kathleen Preston could be no 
more than an emotional factor 
designed to bind him to this 
house, a keyed-in response that 
would not let him forget, no mat- 
ter where he went or what he 
might become, this house and the 
ties it held for him. 

“Hezekiah, who is Horton 
Flanders?” Vickers asked. 

“Horton Flanders,” said the 
robot, “is an android, just the 
same as you.” 

—CLIFFORD D. SIMAK 



CONCLUDED NEXT MONTH 



FORECAST 

Next month, Clifford D. Simok's RING AROUND THE SUN ends in a flare 
of brilliant ingenuity that will probably leave a permanent after-image 
on your mental retina. One question you may find yourself pondering: If 
you're not yourself, who is? 

Damon Knight returns with FOUR IN ONE, which is startling enough to 
excuse his long absence. Its premise seems harmless— a scientist becomes 
absorbed in his work— but wait till you see what Knight does with that 
simple fact! 

WATCHBIRD by Robert Sheckley solves a problem as old as Cain. 
Strange, though, how getting rid of one problem often creates another, 
usually worse than the first. 

Short stories? Willy Ley? Our regular features? Of course! 



160 



GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION 



i 




^ Jcu Gan Influence Others 



With Your Thinking ! 



HTry it some time, Concentrate intently 
upon another person seated in a 
room with you, without his noticing it. 
Observe him gradually become restless 
and finally turn and look in your dircc- 
tion. Simple — yet it is a positive dem - 
onstration that thought generates a 
mental energy which can be projected 
from your mind to the consciousness 
of another. Do you realize how much 
of your success and happiness in life 
depend upon your influencing others? 
Is it not important to you to have 
others understand your point of view — 
to be receptive to your proposals? 

Demonstrable Facts 

How many times have you wished 
Hr there were some way you could impress 
another favorably — get across to him 
(!■ or her your ideas ? That thoughts can 
be transmitted, received, and under' 
stood by others is now scientifically 
demonstrable. The tales of miraculous 
accomplishments of mind by the an* 
t cicnts are now known to be fact — not 
fable. The method whereby these things 
can be intentionally. not accidentally, 
ttr, accomplished has been a secret long 
cherished by the Rosicrucians — one of 



the schools of ancient wisdom existing 
throughout the world. To thousands 
everywhere, for centuries, the Rosi cru- 
cians have privately taught this nearly- 
lost art of the practical use of mind 
power. 

This Free Book Points 
Out the Way 

The Rosicrucians (not a religious or- 
ganization) invite you to explore the 
powers of your mind. Their sensible, 
simple suggestions have caused intelli- 
gent men and women to soar to new 
heights of accomplishment. They will 
show you how to use your natural 
forces and talents to do things you now 
think are beyond your ability. Send 
for a copy of the fascinating sealed free 
book, “The Mastery of Life," which 
explains how you may receive this 
unique wisdom and benefit by its appli- 
cation to your daily affairs. Address 
your request to: Scribe: O.H.Y. 

The Rosicrucians 

( AMORC) 

San Jose, California. U. S. A. 



1 



SEEDS DF LIFE 

By JLJHN TAINE ''' W 

"SEEDS OF LIFE is Science fiction of a high order, a novel involv- 
ing believable people in unusual situations. 

T HOUGHT of the atomic bomb and what exposure to its radia- 
tions might do has excited the imagination of thinking men 
and women everywhere. 

"John Taine" (who is Dr. E. T. Bell of the California Institute ' 
of Technology) has permitted his imagination to investigate some 
of the possibilities in a similar fascinating theme. This is not a 
stojy involving, the atomic bomb, however. Atomic energy is part 
of the story, but only an incidental part, as are such unlikely* 
ingredients as a black widow spider, a two-million volt X-ray 
tube, chicken eggs which hatch out reptilian monsters, and other 
equally strange plot threads. Dr. Bell has again displayed his 
usual ability to write about the unusual. 

When Dr. Andrew Crane of the Erickson Foundation tries to 
make a man of Neils Bork, his laboratory assistant, he succeeds 
in a spectacular manner. Berk himself contributes to the end 
result in his bungling way, and there emerges Miguel De Soto, a 
superman in every sense of the word. His rate of thinking and 
perceiving has accelerated many thousand times beyond that of 
any human being who has ever' lived. He is a partial, accidental 
anticipation of the race man may be destined to become in the 
millenniums ahead. 

SEEDS OF LIFE is written in the smoothly entertaining style 
which characterizes all of Dr. Bell's work, including such well- 
known books as ''The Magic Numbers," ''The Forbidden Garden," 
"The Iron Star," "Before the Dawn," "Mathematics, Queen and 
Servant of Science," and his many "John Taine" science novels. 
And it is adult reading fare, realistic, gripping and informative. 
Above all it is good entertainment. 



AT YOUR NEWSSTAND 
JANUARY 6th